FBI: Suspect Surfed for Bomb Info at Library

FBI: Suspect Surfed for Bomb-Making Information at the Library

The U.S. Department of Justice revealed September 3 that the content of a library internet search was among the pieces of evidence leading to the August 30 arrest of a Michigan man for allegedly plotting to disrupt the 2008 Republican National Convention with Molotov cocktails. However, FBI agents pursuing the case never sought investigative assistance from any staff members at Hennepin County (Minn.) Library, where the suspect allegedly sought information on how to make more effective bombs.

HCL spokesperson Stacy Opitz confirmed to American Libraries that the FBI did not approach the library to request information on the suspect’s internet session there.

Nonetheless, the statement from DOJ’s Minneapolis office details how Matthew Bradley DePalma, 23, allegedly “went to the Hennepin County Library on August 18 and spent 90 minutes researching recipes for explosive devices. DePalma produced a handwritten list of items he would need to construct special Molotov cocktails that would stick to people and other targets.”

“It is our policy to not disclose information without a warrant,” Opitz asserted, stating that the library “has no idea” how the federal agents obtained details about the content of DePalma’s internet search at a public workstation.

However, according to the FBI affidavit (pdf file) submitted August 29 to the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, a warrant was unnecessary: DePalma was accompanied to the library by a confidential source who first met him in July at the CrimeThinc Convergence meeting (held to plan disrupting the RNC) and who feigned friendship to observe DePalma.

Posted on September 12, 2008. Discuss.