Death by a thousand firecrackers?

People in Dearborn, MI can breathe a little easier; a mad bomber is off their streets. Roger Stockholm is safely locked in the jug, charged with issuing terrorist threats and possessing explosives.

Stockholm, a 63-year-old Californian, was arrested outside the Islamic Center of America. In his car was a veritable arsenal. Well, it was an arsenal if a cache of Class-C fireworks constitutes an ammo dump. Purportedly, Stockholm intended to bring down the Islamic Center with a battery of Black Cat firecrackers. Even so, Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said after Stockholm's arrest, "I think the society he wanted to impact is safe."

Really Chief Haddad? Safe from what: putting out an eye, or losing a finger? It's difficult to imagine Stockholm inflicting mass casualties or widespread damage with explosives that can be bought at a convenience store. And just what was his plan of attack: illuminate the target with sparklers and utilize bottle rockets for suppressing fire while deploying M-80s to blow the mosque apart brick-by-brick? Sure, fireworks can be dangerous. But this case seems a mite overblown.

In my youth, my friends and I played with similar weapons of mass destruction. No model airplane, Hot Wheels car, or plastic soldier proved a match for our FDTs (Firecracker Demolition Teams). Yet the only time we inflicted casualties was when we'd stuff a firecracker in an anthill. We never damaged so much as a dog house, much less a mosque. Furthermore, today's M-80s aren't comparable to those of yesteryear, which would instantaneously transform a wooden birdhouse into toothpicks. Destroy a mosque? If Muslims want to be portrayed as  terror victims they'll have to do better than this.

When it comes to plotting terror attacks Roger Stockholm is a rank amateur compared to Islamic militants. Stockholm chose roman candles. Muslims pack a skiff with high explosives and sail it into the hull of a U.S. Navy warship. Stockholm had a carload of firecrackers. Muslims park remotely detonated car bombs in the midst of crowded open-air markets and have elevated the dynamite vest to a sanctified level of spiritual adornment.

Admitted, Stockholm is something of a crank. But in this case he's guilty of no more than poor judgment and possessing illegal fireworks, which makes him as much a terror threat as a 13-year-old kid on summer vacation. So what purpose is served -- other than the obvious comic relief -- by terrorism charges against Stockholm?

Perhaps this is the latest attempt to prove that terrorism isn't exclusively Muslim, a charge no one has filed. Of course, not all Muslims support terrorism. Yet it's equally undeniable that a significant number of Muslims find their epiphany in converting the world to Islam one suicide bomb at a time.

If Islam's best counter to the Muslim terrorist stereotype is a 62-year-old kook with a carload of fireworks they have chosen a poor example. Call me when someone flies an airliner into a minaret.

Anthony W. Hager has authored more than 300 articles for various newspapers, periodicals and websites. Contact him via his website, www.therightslant.com.
People in Dearborn, MI can breathe a little easier; a mad bomber is off their streets. Roger Stockholm is safely locked in the jug, charged with issuing terrorist threats and possessing explosives.

Stockholm, a 63-year-old Californian, was arrested outside the Islamic Center of America. In his car was a veritable arsenal. Well, it was an arsenal if a cache of Class-C fireworks constitutes an ammo dump. Purportedly, Stockholm intended to bring down the Islamic Center with a battery of Black Cat firecrackers. Even so, Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said after Stockholm's arrest, "I think the society he wanted to impact is safe."

Really Chief Haddad? Safe from what: putting out an eye, or losing a finger? It's difficult to imagine Stockholm inflicting mass casualties or widespread damage with explosives that can be bought at a convenience store. And just what was his plan of attack: illuminate the target with sparklers and utilize bottle rockets for suppressing fire while deploying M-80s to blow the mosque apart brick-by-brick? Sure, fireworks can be dangerous. But this case seems a mite overblown.

In my youth, my friends and I played with similar weapons of mass destruction. No model airplane, Hot Wheels car, or plastic soldier proved a match for our FDTs (Firecracker Demolition Teams). Yet the only time we inflicted casualties was when we'd stuff a firecracker in an anthill. We never damaged so much as a dog house, much less a mosque. Furthermore, today's M-80s aren't comparable to those of yesteryear, which would instantaneously transform a wooden birdhouse into toothpicks. Destroy a mosque? If Muslims want to be portrayed as  terror victims they'll have to do better than this.

When it comes to plotting terror attacks Roger Stockholm is a rank amateur compared to Islamic militants. Stockholm chose roman candles. Muslims pack a skiff with high explosives and sail it into the hull of a U.S. Navy warship. Stockholm had a carload of firecrackers. Muslims park remotely detonated car bombs in the midst of crowded open-air markets and have elevated the dynamite vest to a sanctified level of spiritual adornment.

Admitted, Stockholm is something of a crank. But in this case he's guilty of no more than poor judgment and possessing illegal fireworks, which makes him as much a terror threat as a 13-year-old kid on summer vacation. So what purpose is served -- other than the obvious comic relief -- by terrorism charges against Stockholm?

Perhaps this is the latest attempt to prove that terrorism isn't exclusively Muslim, a charge no one has filed. Of course, not all Muslims support terrorism. Yet it's equally undeniable that a significant number of Muslims find their epiphany in converting the world to Islam one suicide bomb at a time.

If Islam's best counter to the Muslim terrorist stereotype is a 62-year-old kook with a carload of fireworks they have chosen a poor example. Call me when someone flies an airliner into a minaret.

Anthony W. Hager has authored more than 300 articles for various newspapers, periodicals and websites. Contact him via his website, www.therightslant.com.

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