Dearborn, Michigan: man arrested over attempted terrorist attack on Islamic centre

A California man is in jail on a terrorism charge after he was arrested in Dearborn for allegedly trying to blow up the biggest mosque in metro Detroit, Dearborn officials said today.

The suspect was arrested in the parking lot of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn on Monday, while hundreds were inside the mosque that sits along Ford Rd., police said. He came to the city because of its large Arab-American and Muslim population, police said.

Roger Stockhman, 63, was arraigned Wednesday on one count on a threat of terrorism or false report and one count of explosive-possession of bombs with unlawful intent for possession of Class C fireworks, Dearborn Police said. “He’s very dangerous,” Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad told the Free Press. “We took his threat to be very serious.”

Haddad said the man was previously known to law enforcement officials in other parts of the country. “He’s had a long history of being angry with the United States government,” Haddad said.

Stockhman, in jail on a $500,000 bond, drove from California to Dearborn and was caught with a car packed with high-end fireworks. The FBI has been notified about the incident, Haddad said. “He picked Dearborn as a stop because of the huge Arab and Muslim population,” Haddad said.

Dearborn has the highest concentration of Arab-Americans in the U.S. and has garnered increased attention in recent years as a center of Islam.

Haddad said that a witness said that Stockhman was planning to blow up the mosque. The suspect “appeared to be acting alone,” Haddad said. “His threat has been mitigated.”

A preliminary examination is set for Friday before Judge Mark Sommers in 19th District Court in Dearborn, police said.

The Islamic Center was holding a funeral at the time the suspect was found in the parking lot, with up to 700 people inside. But the suspect doesn’t appear to have known about the funeral, Haddad said.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly said the suspect “had a lot of high end fireworks. It was the max you could buy legally.” They were not “conventional explosives,” O’Reilly said. “But at that level, those things misused are terrific weapons.”

Dawud Walid, director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said “we thank law enforcement authorities for their quick and professional actions in this troubling incident.”

Detroit Free Press, 30 January 2011

See also CAIR news release, 30 January 2011