Friday, February 4, 2011

American IED: An updated history (from theGrio)

As the nation observes Black History Month 2010, it’s possible to note the dovetail of history and current events in the recent past. One of those happened at a ritual observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday — one of the parades to which we’ve become accustomed, the tributes that are almost par for the course. It pretty much fell off the immediate radar of major media. It didn’t bleed, so it didn’t lead.

The story began on Jan. 17, at the northeast corner of Washington Street and Main Avenue, on the route of the MLK Unity March in Spokane, Wash., 270 miles east of Seattle. Well before the march began, city public utilities workers found a Swiss Army brand backpack containing a remote-controlled explosive device under a bench on the route where thousands of people would soon walk past.

The backpack was sent to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va. The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that the sophisticated bomb included a mix of shrapnel — bolts, nails and random small metal — and a remote detonator. Other reports that it included a chemical commonly found in rat poison have been disputed.

“It definitely was, by all early analysis, a viable device that was very lethal and had the potential to inflict multiple casualties,” said Frank Harrill, the special agent in charge of the Spokane FBI office. Since then, authorities have been very tight-lipped about what they’ve found; Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire was briefed by those officials on Jan. 28, but nothing from that briefing’s been made public.

“This was an attempt to murder scores of people at a Martin Luther King Day march,” Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told theGrio. “This was a sophisticated antipersonnel device built to hurt as many people as possible. This was an attempted domestic terroristic attack based on race.”

For Potok, it was also something else. “It was an IED. That’s exactly, technically, what it was.”

Read the rest at theGrio

Image credits: Backpack: Spokane Spokesman-Review.

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