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Terrorism

Airport Bombing Suspect Caught When Trying to Earn Cash Back From Rewards Program

Airport Bombing Suspect Caught When Trying to Earn Cash Back From Rewards Program
Joe Cortez

REI program leads investigators to arrest in airport bomb plot.

Investigators are crediting a loyalty program for leading them to arresting a suspected bomb-maker who dropped off an explosive device at an American airport. NPR reports Michael Estes was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents on October 7, 2017, after his name was connected to a purchase of bomb-making supplies.

The item, described as an explosive device, was discovered at Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) in North Carolina on October 6 by federal marshals. While the item was disabled before it could explode, the focus soon turned to who dropped it off.

At two stores, FBI agents had images of the suspect making purchases, but no identifying information, as he paid cash. They also tracked him to a third stop at REI, where he purchased a backpack and spoon – the backpack was found in the nearby woods with bomb-making materials. At REI, Estes allegedly used his loyalty program number when paying with cash, ultimately identifying him to authorities.

After arrest, NPR reports Estes allegedly confessed to building and planting the bomb, but did not set it to go off. His goal, according to public radio, was to “fight a war on U.S. soil.”

Estes will face charges of attempted malicious use of explosive materials and unlawful possession of explosive materials at an airport. His case will continue in federal court.

He is not the first traveler to be accused of terrorist activity in 2017. In February, Adam Hayat was accused of leaving explosives behind at a hotel in Denver, Colorado. His case is ongoing in federal court.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (3)

3 Comments

  1. GMTplus7

    October 17, 2017 at 4:15 am

    One of the perps of the 1993 NY World Trade Tower bombing got caught when he tried to get back his cash deposit that he paid on the van he packed with explosives.

  2. BC Shelby

    October 17, 2017 at 10:31 am

    …so the fellow, gets off with two explosives violations and nothing more.

    This was a deliberate terrorist act,. The device employed Anfo which is extremely powerful (remember what happened to the Morrow building) as well as shrapnel around it to cause as much injury to people as possible. Furthermore, the suspect even admitted so, by saying he intended to wage war on US soil.

    Had he been been of a different skin colour than white, he most likely would have been up on charges of intent to commit a terrorist act which are a lot harsher.

    Why is it in other nations when someone walks into a market place and either opens up with and automatic weapon on innocent civilians or sets of an explosive vest it is called terrorism but here when it’s here and the perp is white, it isn’t?

  3. aseg

    October 22, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Following up on BC Shelby’s comment, what’s incredible to me is that there’s been no significant national coverage of this terrorist attack. If the perpetrator had not been white, I suspect we would have heard a lot more about it.

    Think this is an isolated incident? Well, here’s another bombing that happened 3 days ago (October 19) near Colonial Williamsburg. Bet you haven’t heard a word about it. This bomb went off “in a highly trafficked area during peak time” but luckily no one was injured. Again, the perpetrator was white. At least this guy has been charged with an act of terrorism.

    https://pilotonline.com/news/local/gloucester-man-arrested-charged-with-terrorism-in-connection-to-williamsburg/article_cc4d875a-73d1-5771-9ba9-136912b23d3b.html

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