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Man arrested outside mosque

  • Associated Press
  • Published Monday, Jan. 31, 2011, at 12:05 a.m.

DETROIT — A 63-year-old Southern California man who was traveling with explosives in his vehicle with the intention of blowing up one of the nation's largest mosques where mourners had gathered for a funeral was arrested in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, said Michigan authorities on Sunday.

Dearborn police said Roger Stockham was arraigned Wednesday on one count of making a false report or threat of terrorism and one count of possessing explosives with an unlawful intent. Stockham had a large but undisclosed quantity of class-C fireworks including M-80s, which are outlawed in Michigan, Chief Ronald Haddad said.

"I was comfortable with the fact that we had taken him off the street — he isn't going anywhere," Haddad said Sunday afternoon. "I think the society he wanted to impact is safe."

Stockham remained jailed Sunday on a $500,000 bond. A preliminary examination is scheduled for Friday.

Haddad said Stockham was arrested Monday evening without incident in the parking lot of Islamic Center of America, while a large group was gathered inside. He said police received a 911 call from a resident.

Haddad said authorities believe Stockham was acting alone but still take him "very seriously." He said Stockham has "a long history of anti-government activities," though he declined to elaborate.

Haddad said he called the mosque leader, Imam Hassan al-Qazwini, early Tuesday to let him know of the arrest, and later met with Qazwini and mosque board members. He said members shared concerns about copycat crimes if the arrest was publicized, and Haddad said he understood.

"We never want to put something out there that gives someone the 'how-to,' " Haddad said.

Qazwini informed worshippers about the incident during his sermon on Friday. The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter issued a news release Saturday night and the police followed Sunday morning.

Police didn't know whether Stockham had an attorney. A public records search did not turn up a listed number for Stockham, though Haddad said he lives in Imperial Beach, near San Diego.

Dearborn, located about 10 miles west of Detroit, is the capital of the Detroit area's Arab-American community, which is one of the largest in the U.S.

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