FBI warns of attempts to buy fertilizer, chemicals in wake of alleged bomb plot arrest
The Associated Press
DENVER – The FBI is reminding farm supply stores and other businesses across the U.S. to keep an eye out for suspicious purchases of fertilizer and other substances that can be used to make explosives.
FBI spokesman Dave Joly in Denver said Thursday that the bureau sent letters this week warning firms to watch for suspicious behavior by buyers and for unusually large purchases of certain fertilizers, pesticides and other combustibles.
ABC News first reported Thursday that letters had been sent to businesses around the country.
Joly said the FBI long had planned to send the letters as part of a years-old program aimed at terror prevention. He said the latest warnings were unrelated to Wednesday’s arrest of a Saudi Arabian college student in Texas accused of buying explosive chemicals in a plot to blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.
In Texas, Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari was charged Thursday with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The Justice Department said Aldawsari, who studied chemical engineering, bought explosive chemicals online as part of a plan to create bomb materials. A North Caroline chemical company reported suspicious purchases by Aldawsari to the FBI.
According to court documents, Aldawsari listed 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California in e-mails he apparently sent himself. He also wrote an e-mail that mentioned “Tyrant’s House” with the address of Bush’s home.
“It’s a continuing outreach effort to develop relationships with business and entities that may come across suspicious activities,” said Michael Rankin, acting special agent in charge of the FBI field office in Denver.
Rankin said the latest warnings originally were to be sent out in January. The FBI’s Denver office sent letters to about 100 businesses in Colorado and Wyoming, he said.
The letter and an accompanying flier urge businesses to be aware of buyers with little knowledge of crops or fertilizers, large purchases of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate out of season, and buyers paying with large amounts of cash or using rental vehicles to transport large amounts of fertilizer.
Similar letters have been sent by FBI bureaus around the country to swimming pool firms and beauty supply stores.
“We provide information so that when people in the businesses and in the community notice something suspicious, they recognize the matter may be something they should report to the FBI or local law enforcement,” Joly said.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.