Editor’s Note: Updates to this story follow the article.
The typically quiet town of Casa Grande, Arizona, was rocked by an explosion at the local Social Security Administration office early Friday morning of what appears to an improvised explosive device (IED). No one was hurt in the explosion, which occurred shortly before the office was scheduled to open. The explosion was reportedly heard and felt all over the area.
While the little town of Casa Grande and the nearby Phoenix area are talking about the incident, virtually no one else is. In fact, the only reason I was following the story is because I’m presently in the area and saw the initial reports on the explosion and continued to look into it .
Within 90 minutes of the explosion, police had a suspect in custody. But you wouldn’t know it from reading the establishment media reports this past weekend. One reason might be that the suspect is 47-year-old Abdullatif Aldosary of Coolidge, AZ, an Iraqi refugee.
On Friday, federal agents served a search warrant on his home. Aldosary has been on the radar of the Department of Homeland Security for at least the past couple of years.
Late Sunday afternoon, I confirmed with a source at the Phoenix FBI office that the case is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism. The source said that Aldosary is expected to be charged with a host of federal and state explosives and arson charges. (See update below.)
On Saturday, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported:
An explosive device was detonated Friday morning by the back door of the U.S. Social Security Administration office, shaking downtown Casa Grande, but no one was injured.
Federal agents, including those of the FBI, rushed to the scene. The FBI would not confirm whether anyone was in custody, but the Casa Grande Dispatch learned that a Coolidge resident, Abdullatif A. Aldosary, 47, was being questioned. The investigation involved agents’ going to his home at 4732 W. Lemon Ave., on the west side of Coolidge.
The device exploded at 8:24 a.m. at the federal office, 501 N. Marshall St. The back door and wall were charred and debris was thrown throughout the back parking lot, damaging a car parked nearby.
The office was not yet open but more than 10 employees were inside, police said.
A witness was able to provide police with a license plate number on a small dark-colored compact car that fled the scene. The registration showed an address in the Martin Valley subdivision of Coolidge. Coolidge Police Department officers found the vehicle at the Lemon Avenue address. The homeowner, Aldosary, was turned over to the FBI shortly before 10 a.m.
County recorder records show Aldosary bought the house on Aug. 12, 2008. According to court records, he was charged in September with assault and disorderly conduct. He also was charged in March 2008 with four counts of aggravated harassment at the request of the U.S. Homeland Security Department.
FBI, Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents were at the scene collecting evidence throughout the day.
Another news report states that Aldosary served eight months in prison for that earlier aggravated harassment case.
Even though Aldosary’s identity was known to news agencies on Friday after his arrest, national and international media outlets, such as CNN and Reuters which published reports late Friday night, noted his arrest but not his identity. And none but local media have reported Aldosary’s name ever since.
Now imagine if a Tea Partier — or even someone who shared the same name as a Tea Partier — had fire bombed a federal facility less than a month after Barack Obama’s reelection. Anyone think it would be getting more media coverage?
UPDATED (8:25p EDT): I just spoke again with my contact in the FBI Phoenix field office (who is not authorized to speak on behalf of the FBI office). This contact said that it is highly unlikely that Aldosary will be charged with any terrorism offense. While they are internally treating it like a domestic terrorism investigation, including looking at if he had any help constructing the explosive device, the FBI is saying very little and will prosecute this as a simple explosives and arson case because of “the political sensitivities involved.”
UPDATE #2: Please note that the Daily Kos was first out of the gate, blaming the bombing on “right-wing extremism”:
Today, At about 8:30 AM, it appears a small explosive was detonated at the rear door of a Social Security office in Casa Grande, AZ. Thankfully, nobody was injured. It is still early, and we cannot say that it is a political act, or even be sure that this is an act of domestic terrorism, but it does seem likely.
Assuming this is a bombing, and that the bombing was conducted by a right wing zealot opposed to big government (neither of which we know for sure), I think we are seeing the start of something that I have seen coming for awhile.
Daily Kos: Have narrative, will blog.