Scene At Alleged Bomb Factory Astonished FBI With AM-Terror Arrests, Bjt
Jun. 25, 1993
NEW YORK (AP) _ Even hardened FBI agents were stunned by what they saw when they burst into the building allegedly used as a ''bomb factory'' by Muslim fundamentalists.
James M. Fox, head of the FBI's New York office, said agents were ''astonished'' to see the five men ''actually mixing the witches' brew at that very moment.''
Fox said the men were mixing chemicals in 55-gallon drums using large wooden mallets. They were wearing what looked like uniforms.
''The fumes were overpowering,'' he said, recounting a description given by agents who raided the warehouse. ''They were all sweating profusely. It was the strangest scene, it looked like they were whipping up a cake mix.''
The five were among eight people arrested Thursday in an alleged plot to bomb the United Nations headquarters, a federal office building and two tunnels under the Hudson River.
The five were arrested at a warehouse in the Jamaica section of Queens borough, a multi-ethnic neighborhood of two-family homes. The FBI said the gang had rented the warehouse as a safehouse.
Rene Padilla, 49, who has lived across the street from the safehouse for eight years, said a group of people had rented what used to be the yard of an auto repair shop behind the warehouse several months ago and were regularly seen going in and out of the fenced yard.
Padilla said the men were white, and a rumor circulated that they were police.
Neighbors also said they thought FBI agents had rented the top floor apartment in a two-story brick building adjacent to the warehouse.
FBI officials have said they have videotaped surveillance of the safehouse, but have not said how it was obtained.
Julio Severino, who manages a corner store adjacent to the warehouse, said he was surprised by the news. ''The people that used to go there didn't look like terrorists,'' said Severino, 42. He said they ''looked like people from the FBI.''