CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — A teenager has been arrested in Maine for possession of an unregistered explosive device – and prosecutors believe he wanted to travel to Chicago to attack places of worship.
In court documents, investigators said they conducted a search warrant at the home of 18-year-old Xavier Pelkey of Waterville, Maine, and found improvised explosive devices consisting of firework packets and objects sharp metal such as staples, pins and tacks.
An FBI bomb technician determined that the objects were designed to increase the amount of propelled shrapnel if they exploded.
Pelkey claimed he only had ‘fireworks’ in his apartment and glued them together for a ‘bigger boom’, but didn’t explain why they were full of staples and other sharp objects, investigators said.
Prosecutors believe Pelkey planned to come to Chicago to attack houses of worship.
They allege he was talking to two minors about his intention to attack a mosque and possibly a synagogue.
Federal agents discovered three improvised devices in Pelkey’s backpack during a search of his apartment in Waterville on Feb. 11, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court.
Details of the discussion about the commission of what the prosecutor described in court as a “mass murder” in houses of worship are included in a sealed court document, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig M. Wolff said. He said he could only confirm what was said in court during Tuesday’s detention hearing.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has urged federal prosecutors to bring hate crime charges in the case.
“This disturbing case highlights the real threat posed by anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred,” Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy director of CAIR, said in a statement.
Pelkey is being held without bond. His attorney, Christopher MacLean, did not immediately return a message Thursday from The Associated Press.
Wolff declined to say if any further charges could be brought.
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