A student in Utah whose name has not been released by the authorities allegedly brought a homemade bomb to school in his backpack, researched the Islamic State (ISIS) online, hung an ISIS flag in place of a school flag, and spray-painted “ISIS Is Coming” on the wall of another high school.
The student was arrested on Monday at Pine View High School after other students noticed his backpack was smoking and contacted school officials. The student who found the backpack sitting near a vending machine said it contained matches, canisters, and was making a “sizzling” sound. The school was evacuated while police dealt with the device.
“From that initial investigation, it was determined that a homemade explosive device was inside the backpack. After examining the device, bomb squad members indicated that if it had detonated, the device had the potential to cause significant injury or death,” the police said in a statement.
“A warrant was served on the residence of that juvenile and items were located that were consistent with the materials used to build the device placed at Pine View. Based on our investigation we can confirm this was a failed attempt to detonate a homemade explosive at the school,” the police statement continued.
The authorities additionally determined that the male student “had been researching information and expressing interest in ISIS and promoting the organization.”
The police suspect the same individual was responsible for writing “ISIS Is Coming” (for some reason, perhaps a shortage of time or paint, he left the letters “-ng” off at the end) on the wall of a different school, Hurricane High School, and replacing a flag with the black jihadi flag of the Islamic State.
Another local media source states that the suspect admitted to replacing the flag and painting the graffiti at Hurricane High. At the time this incident occurred, the flag stolen by the student was described as an American flag, but most reports filed after Monday’s arrest refer to it as the school flag.
Contemporaneous police statements based upon consultation with the FBI indicated the perpetrator of the vandalism was not believed to be associated with ISIS and was not a threat to the safety of other students, an assertion that now appears to be at least half wrong; all that remains is to determine whether the would-be bomber was contacted by Islamic State agents after expressing interest in their propaganda.
“We’d like to recognize and thank the students who notified faculty and the school resource officer of the suspicious backpack. Their immediate action played a large role in this incident ending with no injuries,” the St. George Police Department said.
Curiously, the incident has received virtually zero national media attention despite being a narrowly-averted mass-casualty attack with links to international terrorism that could have killed and maimed dozens of children.