January 22, 2008

A bomb-making factory is discovered in a Columbia professor's house — 3 blocks from where I live.

From The Daily News (via Michelle Malkin):
Cops evacuated the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood around the Remsen St. home of Michael Clatts, a medical anthropologist, after finding seven pipe bombs fitted with fuses in his flat, police sources said.

The frightening cache was discovered almost by accident - Ivaylo Ivanov, the man living with Clatts, accidentally shot off the tip of his left index finger and sought police help in the street about 1:15 a.m.

When investigators went to the 37-year-old Ivanov's apartment, they found the bombs, already capped on both ends and filled with powder. One of the pipe bombs was inserted into a Nerf football, cops said.

A 9-mm. handgun, two ammunition magazines, a 12-gauge shotgun, silencers, a bulletproof vest, a crossbow and bomb-making equipment, including a drill and threading machine that could be used to make pipe bombs, were also recovered, cops said.

Investigators with the NYPD-FBI were questioning Ivanov, a native of Bulgaria, to determine whether he had any terrorism or Russian Mafia connections, a source told the Daily News.

"Russian Mafia aren't fazed by getting a fingertip shot off - and they certainly don't go to the cops for help," the source said.

UPDATE: What is Clatt's connection to all this?
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers picked up the researcher, Michael Clatts, at John F. Kennedy International Airport yesterday morning as he was returning from Vietnam, where he had been conducting a research project for the National Institute on Drug Abuse....

Customs officers took Mr. Clatts to the Downtown Brooklyn precinct, where he refused to speak with detectives working on the case. Instead, he requested his lawyer be called and was later released....

Several neighbors in the building said they believed that Mr. Clatts would have been unaware of his roommate's alleged involvement in the crimes. Mr. Clatts travels often for his work, his neighbors have said, and he was not believed to be in the apartment this week when the arsenal was found.

79 comments:

Trooper York said...

And all this time you thought you were the "bomb."

Trooper York said...

I think the apartments of all visiting professors should be searched by the police. After all you have Maxine as a roommate.

Ron said...

Publish or perish, indeed!

former law student said...

Has Ann mentioned reading MM before now? Ann Coulter's spiritual sister is not in AA's blogroll.

Middle Class Guy said...

"It's not a huge apartment."


Stuff had to lying around all over the place. In my professional opinion, the professor has some "splaining to do".

SteveR said...

His bio doesn't look too wild, but it will be interesting to learn what he was up to.

Cabbage said...

What on earth is medical anthropology?

Drew W said...

Apparently heavily armed maniac Ivanov also confessed to spray-painting the swastikas that appeared on two Remsen St. synagogues last September -- one of which my daughter attends for Hebrew School. She even had Hebrew School the day the swastikas were discovered -- and were blasted off the brownstone. (When I picked her up that night, I innocently asked, “So . . . what did you talk about in Hebrew School today?”)

And Ivanov -- please, let no one fabricate any Dostoevskian anti-hero comparisons for this loonie -- lived only a block or two away from the synagogues. I didn’t think that racist vandalism was much like burglary, but there too, apparently, it’s usually done by somebody right in the neighborhood. (Where do you think he wanted to hurl those pipe-bombs anyway? At the time, my daughter and I shrugged off the swastikas as the work of harmless slimeballs, but maybe we weren't being paranoid enough.)

And I so agree, "former law student," the real threat is Michelle Malkin, isn't it?

Last September, I posted about the swastika incident the day after it happened on the blog of a good Zionist friend, and -- since it coincided with Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York -- there were a number of commenters there who were certain that Arabs were responsible. I said racist white guys were still more likely culprits. At least I got that one right.

That Ivanov was living with a teacher at Columbia -- in an apartment that neighbors and owners both have said was way too small for the roomie to claim ignorance of the other one’s secret life as an urban race-warrior -- makes me feel even more disappointment in my alma mater.

I remember the days when people thought of Columbia and thought of “Sha Na Na.”

I'm picking my girl up at the synagogue again tonight, thankfully in one piece. I wonder if anybody there will have something to say about this recent development -- or if I'll rather just not inquire.

Ann Althouse said...

Former Law Student: I read the aggregating site Memeorandum a lot, and this is a case of going to MM from there and then to the Daily News. I suppose I should always link Memeorandum too in that situation, but it works automatically, so I don't always take the time to do it.

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, important that this seems to be the swastikas guy. I was going to write more -- I'm busy -- note the "Nazis" tag. That was for the swastikas.

Trooper York said...

Medical anthropology is when you give a dinosaur an enema. Cindy McCain gives one to the Senator every day so he can get a good night's sleep.

Jim Hu said...

It's not clear to me from the coverage that Clatts actually lived there. In the NYT:
Mr. Ivanov told investigators he intended to use the bombs for fishing; but, given his admission that he painted swastikas on synagogues, investigators became concerned he was planning violence.

Trooper York said...

It was gefilte fishing. Oy.

The Drill SGT said...

I wonder if Clatts has tenure? :)

He apparently strudies HIV, drug users and poverty. His school at Columbia looks oh so social justice in its outlook:

The Department of Sociomedical Sciences is distinguished by its focus on the social determinants of disease and health. This is accomplished by examining the correlation between epidemiological trends and structural inequities in order to expose the fundamental social causes of public health events, including discrimination, stigma, and poverty.

Jim Hu said...

Since the prof seems to spend a lot of time out of the country for research, as well as for an appointment at a university in Puerto Rico, I wonder if this is just a case of picking a really, really bad housesitter.

Let's not rush to judgement here!

Trooper York: lol!

Trooper York said...

They should also check out Robin Williams’s office, because that’s a bomb making factory if there ever was one.

AJ Lynch said...

Let's hope the poor professor has tenure. If not, could the university hold him responsible for the actions of his roommate? Does not seem fair to me heh.

Trooper York said...

I would revoke tenure for any professor who refuses to blog about American Idol (on tonight Channel 5 at 8pm).

The Drill SGT said...

Jim,

The flip side of that "expectation of privacy" thing that the 4th amendment provides to a person in their home is that the police seem to think that the same homeowner "should" be aware of the private things going on in that same home.

If nothing else, Clatts is going to have a number of long talks with the FBI and find it hard to fly places without having his cavities inspected :)

Trooper York said...

Not that theres anything wrong with that.

Anthony said...

Wow -- Remsen and Hicks. About 6 blocks from my old apartment at State and Clinton.

What are you Brooklyn Heights folks doing?

AlphaLiberal said...

Don't tell me -- it's Bill Clinton's fault!

Ron said...

Ann has only seen the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights -- Remsen and Hicks -- what a crazy pair!

But they're cousins...identical cousins, and you'll find...

AlphaLiberal said...

Don't pipe-bomb-filled Nerf footballs fall under the 2nd Amendment protections?

Or maybe he just watched Three Kings and thought that looked like fun?

The funniest part is that Ann Althouse reads Michelle Malkin! And Ann's a moderate! Ha-ha! Not so much.

Elliott A said...

Over 12% of Bulgarians are Muslim, so we don't know for certain he is not an Islamist

AJ Lynch said...

Alpha liberal:

Only libs like you (and vocal opponents of the Patriot Act) make assumptions about others based on what the others read.

Elliott A said...

What is wrong with reading someone who strongly opposes the Socialist State?

Trooper York said...

There are reports of chalk outlines of egg salad sandwiches with a line drawn through them being etched on the sidewalks in front of several deli's in Brooklyn Heights. Vandalism by rowdy teenagers? A sick cry for help? A mind tortured by the academy to such a degree that it has been lost to madness?

tituswhore said...

Heath Ledger was also found dead in his apartment today-how sad.

I loved him in Brokeback Mountain.

tjl said...

I thought it was Jake Gyllenhaal who loved him in Brokeback Mountain.

PatCA said...

Yikes, three blocks away.

This whole story, with the crazy roommate, I'm sure is yet to be revealed.

With the professor's belief that "inequities" cause disease, I could believe the bombs were his too. It's the Weather Underground all over again.

rhhardin said...

A Keillor-suggested story beginning :

``It was a morning like every other as Ivanov loaded dynamite into the car for a day of bass fishing.''

former law student said...

Ann was most likely in no danger -- at least no more than if she had lived in Littleton, Colorado ten years ago.

But remember, when pipe caps are outlawed, only outlaws will have pipe caps.
http://www.doityourself.com/icat/galvancap

AlphaLiberal said...

AJ, Ann reads and sends traffic to Michelle Malkin, Instapunjob, Drudge, etc. She echoes the right wing attach memes with the very rare critique of the right-wing memes.

And then says she's a political centrist. I look at the the evidence and conclude otherwise.

But I was mostly joking anyway.

Revenant said...

The funniest part is that Ann Althouse reads Michelle Malkin! And Ann's a moderate! Ha-ha! Not so much.

Let me see if I follow your, uh, "reasoning", here:

(1): Michelle Malkin is a conservative.

(2): Ann reads Michelle Malkin, ergo Ann is a conservative.

(3): You read Ann, ergo you are a _________?

Pogo said...

And whatever happened to the supposed "hate crime" at Columbia involving a noose? What about that surveillance video? Whodunnit?

Ahmadinejad spoke freely at Columbia, that purveyor of deathtothejoos.

They ejected the young man making the movie "Indoctrinate U." (No free speech for you!)

And now this.
What's with Columbia?
Why does it still draw a breath?

And aphalib:
Since when are pipe bombers just some meme for you to draw an idiotic political point? What an insufferable twit you are. This asshole meant to kill a bunch of jews in a synagogue.
What's the matter with you anyway?

Skyler said...

Isn't New York so vertical that pretty much everything is three blocks away?

ricpic said...

I always search the faces of the poor for stigmata, and I don't have to search long.

babuilder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
babuilder said...

alphaliberal said:

Don't tell me -- it's Bill Clinton's fault!

By golly I think you're on to something. This probably is the same Jed Michael Clatts that spent his summers as a boy back in Hope with Bill dynamiting catfish out of farm ponds. Good catch.

Trooper York said...

The cops have released a detailed inventory of his apartment. Besides the bombs and the weapons, he had a Green Bay Packers jersey, a rubber cheese head and a map to Giants stadium

Christy said...

Do you figure this is, for Professor Clatts, the consequence of being determinedly non-judgmental about the behavior of others?

Gary Rosen said...

"What an insufferable twit you are. This asshole meant to kill a bunch of jews in a synagogue."

Alphie's jim dandy with that. I'm waiting for C-fudd to weigh in on the guy's "heart and courage".

peter hoh said...

Is Maxine in custody? I thought for sure she'd comment on this thread.

Kirk Parker said...

Trooper,

Dinosaur enemas??? Every time I think you've hit your peak, you end up surpassing yourself.

cokaygne said...

Much as it pains me, I'm a Columbia grad myself but they're off the hook on this guy. Clatts did not have tenure. In its commitment to publish all the news that fits, the New York Times does not mention Clatts's Columbia connection, but does mention that he got a minor contract from the Giuliani administration way back when.

A question for Amendment II absolutists: Would it be possible for government to forbid filling a small apartment with pipe bombs in the midst of a crowded neighborhood? Just asking.

goesh said...

-the wags are out in full force today

Hoosier Daddy said...

Did I miss something in the article? Why is one of the tags about Nazis?

Pogo said...

Amendment II absolutists?

That amendment exists in order to protect us from the absolutist state (e.g. like Nazi Germany, the one this animal was emulating). Absent weapons, we are sheep.

Guys like this aren't constitutional originalists. They don't love this country. They're usually trying to overthrow it.

This isn't a second amnedment issue. It is, especially given the swastikas, a liberal fascist issue.

OrpheusRed said...

"I said racist white guys were still more likely culprits. At least I got that one right." -- Drew W

Ironically, his lawyer makes the claim that Ivanov is Jewish. Given that, what bigotry are we exposing here, Drew? His, yours, or that of your "good Zionist friend"? (Quote, not scare quote) It behooves all not to stereotype the... er... stereotypers. Yeh, nevermind, carry on.

I am generally curious what effect that would have on a possible hate-crime prosecution.

Middle Class Guy said...

peter hoh said...
Is Maxine in custody? I thought for sure she'd comment on this thread.


She is being held as a material witness, as several bolts and swatches of fabric were found. Sperculation is that they were to be designer bombs.

She turned herself into Trooper York at a motel near JFK airport, where she had been hiding. Several hours later police were called and she surrendered.

Mr. Bingley said...

A little more info here.

From Inwood said...

patca

You evoke the Ghost of Bombers Past: The Weathermen (Um, shouldn’t that have been “Weatherpersons”? Oh, that was before PC. Sort of premature un-PC, I guess.)

FYI, Arnold Beichman nailed them & other, um, fairy tales in his Nine Lies About America. Lie # 3: "The Bomber Left Is a Moral Force".

Pogo: Beichman quotes a Columbia Prof in 1970 as saying after the Alma Mater statute on Campus was bombed:
“These kids have a higher priority –--social justice--- and if we had social justice these things wouldn’t happen." Plus ça change….

And the trolls use this as an excuse to get off on their “There is no Constitutional right to bear arms” meme. Plus ça change….. What, no reference to American bombing of Iraqis? They’re slipping!

When I lived in NYC there was an illegal drug factory in a house two blocks away (pace, Skyler) and whatever the denizens were doing, there was a house busting explosion. Some elderly neighbor had decided to rent her house while she was retired in Fla, rather than sell. She didn’t get a D&B apparently. Slum landlords would’ve been more careful!

Drew W said...

Orph:

I’m working on the assumption that your post above was a joke. But in the off-chance it wasn’t, this was my reasoning. Let me walk you through it:

Swastikas -- save the traditional Hindu ones -- are more or less universally recognized today as a symbol of the White Power movement, and thus the possibility that they were left there by a white person seemed to me to be statistically high.

And if Ivanov really is Jewish, then I think we can all agree he’s an anti-Semite with some serious issues to work through. (In contrast to the other anti-Semites in the world, who thankfully all have their heads screwed on straight, right?) Whatever his background, the impact of his crime was the same, which is probably why he still gets charged for the swastikas back in September.

If he’s acting out some neurotic ritual of ethnic self-reproach, isn’t it still as much a hate crime as it would be if he were a drunken skinhead lashing out at the Zionist Occupation Government? (And wouldn't my child and I be just as dead if he'd tossed one of those fully-armed pipe bombs through the synagogue window when we were inside?)

But hey, I have enjoyed playing the home version of that tried-and-true white liberal game, “No, You’re The Racist!” (Tell him what he wins Johnny Olson!)

rightwingprof said...

Nazis? I didn't seen anything about Nazis in the article. Wha'd I miss?

rcocean said...

From reading the article and comments it looks like we need more information.

For example, is Mr. I a Bulgarian jew, muslim, or christian? Did he really need bombs for fishing? Why did he paint Swaz-sticker's on the Jewish place of worship? And why isn't he in jail for doing same?
Doesn't New York lead the nation in "Hate" crime legislation?

Nik said...

I run a lamp-making art studio, now moving into jewelry. My main concern is avoiding having to use flames, and only storing minor flammables like rubbing alcohol or soy based stripping solvents. On occasion, this 100 year old building springs a pipe leak and plumbers come rushing in with a master key. Although the swastika adorning my antique wooden statue of Bhudda would likely go un-noticed, I also have a classic "bomb making factory" interior, especially my home-made lamp dimmer making table! Worse, one time, the plumbers did open my kitchen sink cabinet and there *was* a heavy walled ("black pipe") screw-capped "pipe bomb" in there. My background is chemistry. We call any reaction pressure vessel a "bomb." I had, a year or two back, been trying to force fabric dye from the local drug store into a lamp part, made of high tech layered laminate material, to make it black. They didn't notice it, but from that day (and no longer needing my "bomb" since the dye didn't 'take' even after heating in the stove in the extremely oversafe vessel), I've been rather careful about appearances in case a concerned plumber ever tells the police I seem to be up to no good. It doesn't help that I once ordered a tiny circuit board camera for a machine tool so get all manner of "private investigator" catalogs, and lately ordered a leather iPod holder which was originally designed to hold handgun bullet clips, so next to my toilet are about a dozen "guns & ammo" catalogs filled with survivalist and anarchist books and accessories for sale! I also live a few blocks from you, right by Columbia, in a building chock full of students whose two colleges have their own overprotective police, an area thus also quite prone to sudden "fire inspections." That I also have an inflatable commando boat (dinghy) and gas engine in my closet from my old camping days can't help either. But! Having a PhD in molecular synthesis, and a full metal-working shop, *if* I wanted to make something go boom, it would be a very big boom indeed. Gunpowder is for kids, way too friction sensitive, and not even toxic. This guy was a bumbling amateur.

Dave said...

rhhardin, it's easy to see you're not a country boy. You don't use pipe bombs to fish for bass, you use pipe bombs to fish for carp and catfish.

OrpheusRed said...

"I’m working on the assumption that your post above was a joke."

Interestingly... No, it wasn't. Though I was trying to keep the tone a bit light.

Here's the rub: If "racism" is denoted to be a stereotype that assigns likely culpability to an action or outcome based on parental lineage then blaming "white guys" or "arab guys" is de facto racist.

Now you correctly defend this from the standpoint of likely statistical probability. Interestingly if you banged around white nationalist arenas at all (Know thy enemy) you would find that they would likely ascribe the culprit as Jewish based on statistical odds from past news articles.

Who's right? Who's wrong? Doesn't matter really and why I tried to keep it at a light tone. It's just a humourous irony on the admonition of the use of statistics in defending racism or defending one against that charge.

Is it still as much a hate-crime? I don't think so. If a white man lynched a black man we'd call it an obvious hate-crime. What if a black man lynched a black man? It doesn't seem at all the same.

Given the nature of a hate crime as extra punishment based on the concept of providing a disincentive to racist thought and speech for the purpose of stamping out racism... It really does seem to preclude the circumstance as a concept.

Every hate crime law I'm aware of is predicated on the fact that the perpetrator and victim are of differing identity groups. Though, I have no idea of how that works out in New York. Nor am I aware of same identity groups being on both sides of a hate crime charge; thus my curiosity.

FmrFed said...

Hm-m-m...let's see...travels often, refuses to talk to cops and demands lawyer, Columbia prof who studies drug abuse in Vietnam -- a country that shoots people with that habit. What's to study?

We call those "clues", boys and girls...

former law student said...

Would it be possible for government to forbid filling a small apartment with pipe bombs in the midst of a crowded neighborhood? Just asking.

They're regulated under Title 26 of the USC, same as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. The bomb maker would have had to register them with the feds.

Which points out that there are two separate issues: simply possessing bombs vs. manufacturing them. Gun manufacturers are subject to a separate set of regulations, but yes, in your fully equipped metal-working shop you could build your own (non-machine) gun with a minimum of government regulation.

Roger said...

The apartment owner whose ficus was killed and underwear worn and not washed by a housesitter should consider herself lucky.

Beth said...

It is, especially given the swastikas, a liberal fascist issue.

Pogo, with or without weapons, you're a sheep.

M. Simon said...

Cultural anthropology is trying to figure out why the death penalty does not deter drug dealing.

Trooper York said...

All this turis about a bomb making factory, and not a word about American Idol, a hit making factory. Makes me think. Hmmmmmmm!

former law student said...

travels often, refuses to talk to cops and demands lawyer, Columbia prof who studies drug abuse in Vietnam -- a country that shoots people with that habit.

Why wouldn't he talk to the cops? The Sun article provides a clue: "Police officials have said Mr. Ivanov confessed to the swastika incident after several hours of police questioning." Heck, after several hours of police questioning I might confess to killing Cock Robin with a bow and arrow.

NYC cops are notoriously far off the strait and narrow: today's NYT reveals how drug cops were paying informants with drugs seized from dealers they busted. They were last in the news for killing a bridegroom for trying to escape their menacing presence. As a sidenote, how does Bloomsburg think he can run the country when he can't even keep the NYPD in line?

And why would a Columbia prof study drug use in Viet Nam? My guess is that he got a government grant to do so.

Pogo said...

Beth,
Me, a sheep?
You mean my unsubtle Jonah Goldberg reference?

Columbia = liberal
Swastikas painted on a synagogue = fascist

Adds up to me.
What's your calculus here?

PatCA said...

"NYC cops are notoriously far off the strait and narrow." There you go again! The NYT cite does not make your sweeping generalization so.

BTW I wouldn't talk to the cops without a lawyer either. It's your constitutional right.

As for the grant, why is the US funding a study on drug users in Vietnam?

FmrFed said...

Y'all missed one...the cops got a bit personal/accusatory. Bingo. Depends on how guilty he's feeling.

He could also have been studying capital punishment.

A Columbia prof?? Nah-h-h.

FmrFed said...

Why does the US finance putting a crucifix in a bottle of pee and calling it "art"? Or smearing one with dung/feces?

Your tax dollars at work.

Revenant said...

Would it be possible for government to forbid filling a small apartment with pipe bombs in the midst of a crowded neighborhood? Just asking.

Yes. Pipe bombs pose a significant risk of accidental detonation, as does the construction of pipe bombs. Plus, of course, apartment building owners are free to ban hazardous materials, and most do. The second amendment doesn't apply at all in that case.

Revenant said...

You mean my unsubtle Jonah Goldberg reference? Columbia = liberal [,] Swastikas painted on a synagogue = fascist

Er, have you actually read the book? Because that is NOT the kind of point Goldberg was making.

Chip Ahoy said...

I see the extreme left-wing deranged no-longer-able-to-think-clearly twisted attack-cats-who-just-got-set-into-a-tub-of-water overly sensitive-to-anything-not-party-approved are in full force today, able to comment on one thing and one thing only and so to repeat that one thing ad nauseam, ad vomentum, ad wrenchyourselfum to ad ignorum.

Chip Ahoy said...

But I love the rest of all y'alls insightful and often touching comments.

Pogo said...

Rev,
Beth called me a "sheep", which I thought was a reference to my use of the phrase "Liberal fascist", Goldberg's book title. Maybe she meant something else. Dunno.

My simple addition after that was to show how chronic leftism was here juxtaposed directly with the most famous fascism. I wasn't trying to summarize the book, but merely to note how neatly the two came together here. As in , what a surprise.

I'm only a few chapters in. I have read most of these facts elsewhere, this having been one of my favorite searches, but he does a good job thus far. Finishing Sowell's new economics book first.

Middle Class Guy said...

It appears that the good professor did exactly what any citizen should do when placed in an adversarial position with law enforcement- STFU and demand an attorney. It is no indication of guilt or innocence. It is a right, nothing more or less.

I would do the same and I'm a former cop.

Ian said...

There's a good point - the professor had every moral and legal right to do what he did in the police station. Shut up, sit tight, and wait for your attorney.

"assisting police in their enquiries" is a british euphemism for "under arrest" because of their libel laws - but in the US, it's getting to be the truth.

FmrFed said...

The key words in your post, middle class guy, are "adversarial position". No indication in the article he was being interrogated, just interviewed.

There was no Miranda reportedly given to the prof; just a few logical questions for someone out of country at the time. It was his apartment, after all. Now he [constitutionally] says he will self-incriminate if he talks, so he won't.

Like the german guy on the old "Laugh-In" used to say, "Veddy inter-rrestink..."

Possibly the cops got a bit mouthy, of course, and the guy clammed up out of spite. Refusing to co-operate in a possible terrorist plot, though -- along with his peculiar/questionable foreign travel/research are indeed of interest and perked my old warhorse ears right up there.

The guy needs to be added to the suspect list if he isn't already.

FmrFed said...

Folks tend to believe they don't have to answer police questions for constitutional reasons...not true.

The 5th Amendment says, in part:
"No person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself".

That means no self-incrimination -- if'n ya ain't done nothin' wrong, ya cain't incriminate yaself.

Answer the question, laddie. Demanding a lawyer sure does make a body wonder...