FBI to alert storage locker owners to potential dangers

Cleveland Plain Dealer , OH
Aug 13 2004

FBI to alert storage locker owners to potential dangers

John Caniglia
Plain Dealer Reporter

The FBI today will issue warnings nationwide to owners of storage
lockers, asking them to be aware of people paying in cash or who have
chemical burns on their hands.

In Cuyahoga County, FBI agents will talk with the owners of 98
storage centers, telling them to look out for people who insist on
paying in cash or want to store agricultural equipment, such as

FBI agent Robert Hawk said agents also want to stress that the units’
owners should report people who have flight manuals, pesticides and

He said owners should be suspicious of people who carry large amounts
of ammunition. Hawk said the information came from the agency’s
headquarters in Washington. He did not say what specifically led to
the warning.

The warning is the latest in a longstanding series of alerts, as
federal authorities broaden their search for terrorists intent on
pummeling America. The difference is the detail that the FBI has
released about the people involved.

Past extremists, including Timothy McVeigh and former Cleveland
educator Mourad Topalian, have used the units to store explosives.

Last week, agents arrested a man in Chicago after he rented a storage
facility and placed about 500 pounds of fertilizer inside. The
Chicago Tribune reported that he was accused of wanting to destroy a
federal courthouse, using ammonium nitrate, which McVeigh used to
kill 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995.

In 1996, the manager of a Bedford storage locker, upset that he had
not been paid in months, called police.

Officers opened the locker and found two automatic weapons and cases
loaded with dynamite.

They discovered that a woman had rented the locker in 1980 for her
husband, Topalian, a national spokesman for Armenian-Americans and a
vice president of Cuyahoga Community College.

Prosecutors linked some of the explosives to the 1980 bombing of the
Turkish Mission to the United Nations in New York.