Friday, September 01, 2006

Pipe Bomb At Chicago Commuter Train Station

Once again, we must parse the euphemism and denial surrounding a possible terror attack. A pipe bomb was set off at a suburban Chicago Metra station:

A man is in police custody after allegedly putting a pipe bomb in a trash receptacle at a Metra train station this morning in west suburban Hinsdale, authorities said.

The device went off, but no injuries were reported. Nor was damage extensive. Remnants of the device were found in the Hinsdale Station, 21 E. Hinsdale Ave., around 7 a.m.

"At this time we do not have any reason to believe this was a terrorist act, nor do we have any reason for this act," Hinsdale police said in a prepared statement.

It's too soon to say what this is all about, and probably too soon to jump all over the police and reporters for not telling the whole story. However, I'm not going to hold my breath that this will be the day that law enforcement officers and journalists decide that the public is capable of hearing all the facts, should those facts prove politically incorrect.

Here's a Google map of the location.

The Chicago Tribune story above describes the suspect thusly:
A witness saw the suspect, described as a tall and skinny 20-year-old man, put an item in the garbage can, Hinsdale police said. The suspect then got on the 6:56 a.m. or 7:04 a.m. Metra train heading to Chicago.

CBS2Chicago adds the detail of his race:
The suspect was described as "tall and skinny," a black man about 20, according to the release, which said authorities did not believe this to be an act of terrorism.

The bomb did not disrupt Metra traffic at all.

UPDATE: But wait! There's more! From an updated version of the Tribune article:
A pipe bomb exploded in a trash receptacle at a Metra train station in Hinsdale today and, in a separate incident, passengers evacuated a train in Park Ridge after detecting a strange odor, authorities said.


Meanwhile, in northwest suburban Park Ridge, authorities sent bomb-sniffing dogs onto a Metra train following reports of an unidentified chemical smell aboard the train.

The strong odor was reported on train No. 638, which was traveling toward the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago around 10 a.m. near the Dee Road Station, at 881 N. Dee Rd., authorities said.

I used to pass that station on my commute everyday. It was just rebuilt. There's no word on what caused the smell, but this incident did delay the trains about an hour.

Metra spokeswoman, Meg Reile claimed the two incidents were unrelated. That statement may be true, but so far has not been justified by any fact whatsoever.

UPDATE 2: The latest version of the story states the man arrested originally has been released. Here's reassuring bit of information:
[Hinsdale Police Chief Bradley] Bloom said the department has not ruled that man out — or anyone else — but said police don't have a good description of who may have left the bomb. There are no security cameras at the station, and nobody actually saw anyone place the bomb into the trashcan, he said.

They might consider installing some cameras, maybe a few of those red light cameras that have proven so lucrative for so many communities. There must be a few that can be spared. Chicago is not entirely dissimilar a target from London, Mumbai, or Madrid.
Still, the device was more sophisticated than some - it had a timer that allowed it to have a delayed detonation, authorities said.

"We're a little concerned, because it was a somewhat sophisticated device," Bloom said, referring to the timer. "And it was just inside the door (of the station)."

This is what concerns me: a timer suggests great sophistication, even if the bomb itself does not. It makes the pipe bomb story worth paying attention to.

And it makes the perfunctory declarations that this event has nothing to do with terrorism somewhat less than believable.

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