FBI Says Pipe Bomb Suspect May Have Targeted Newsom, Facebook, Twitter

January 28, 2021 Updated: January 28, 2021

Justice Department officials said Wednesday that a California man charged with carrying pipe bombs may have been targeting Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and the offices of Twitter and Facebook.

Federal prosecutors said Ian Benjamin Rogers was charged on Tuesday after a search of his home and business uncovered five pipe bombs, 49 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and manuals for making improvised explosive devices, according to a criminal complaint (pdf).

On Jan. 15, officers and agents from multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Napa County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI executed a state search warrant at Rogers’s home and business and business in Napa County, where besides guns and pipe bombs, they found materials that could be used to make improvised explosives, including black powder, pipes, and endcaps. They also found manuals, including The Anarchist Cookbook, U.S. Army Improvised Munitions Handbook, and Homemade C-4 A Recipe for Survival, the affidavit said.

FBI Special Agent Stephanie Minor wrote in an affidavit that Rogers said in a post-arrest interview that the pipe bombs were for entertainment purposes only, but a trove of items and text messages recovered from his phone “indicate that the pipe bombs were not just for entertainment purposes,” she wrote.

She said Rogers made multiple threats of violence against Democratic targets to ensure former President Donald Trump did not leave office.

“Text messages recovered from ROGERS’s phone indicate his belief that Donald Trump won the 2020 presidential election, and his intent to attack Democrats and places associated with Democrats in an effort to ensure Trump remained in office,” she wrote.

Rogers allegedly sent text messages saying, “We can attack Twitter or the democrats you pick” and “I think we can attack either easily.”

Minor said in the complaint that there were also references to Newsom’s office in Sacramento, as well as the headquarters for Facebook and Twitter.

“I’m thinking sac office first target,” Rogers allegedly wrote in one of the messages, which Minor presumed was a reference to Newsom’s office, and “Then maybe bird and face offices,” presumably referring to the two social media giants, which have been the target of criticism after they banned Trump from their platforms.

Other messages attributed to Rogers that were cited in the complaint include, “I want to blow up a democrat building bad,” “Sad it’s come to this but I’m not going down without a fight,” and “These commies need to be told what’s up.”

A spokeswoman for Newsom told the Los Angeles Times that the governor is aware of Rogers’s arrest and is assisting authorities with their investigation.

Rogers faces charges of unlawful possession of an unregistered destructive device, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars.

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