- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

A Forestville man whose homemade pipe bomb exploded and set fire to a home in Riverdale early yesterday was planning to attack a local abortion clinic, authorities said.

Maryland State Police arrested Robert F. Weiler Jr., 25, in Garrett County, Md., yesterday hours before a pipe bomb that he had made partially detonated in a home in the 5700 block of 67th Avenue.

Prince George’s County bomb-squad members were trying to dismantle the weapon in a bedroom closet when it accidentally exploded and sparked a fire that caused about $20,000 worth of damage. No one was injured in the explosion or the fire.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Mr. Weiler confessed that he was going to use the pipe bomb to blow up an abortion clinic in College Park. He also intended to use a stolen .40-caliber pistol “to shoot doctors who provided abortions,” according to an affidavit signed by federal agents.

His intended target was the Metropolitan Family Planning Institute in the 5900 block of Greenbelt Road, authorities said.

Mr. Weiler was charged with illegally possessing a destructive device, making a firearm, possessing a firearm despite having a past felony conviction and possessing a stolen firearm.

He was being held yesterday afternoon at the Garrett County Detention Center and is expected to appear in federal court today.

A woman who answered the phone at the abortion clinic yesterday said clinic officials had been made aware of the intended plot against the facility. The woman declined to give her name and said the clinic would continue to operate with the “same security as before.”

Police arrested Mr. Weiler about 12:30 a.m. at the Youghiogheny Overlook Welcome Center on Interstate 68 in Garrett County after he had called agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to surrender. Troopers found the handgun and a magazine with ammunition in his car.

The rest stop is more than 140 miles from his friend’s Riverdale home, where Mr. Weiler said he had stored a pipe bomb consisting of black powder, nails and 7 feet of fuse, authorities said.

Prince George’s County officials evacuated the house and neighbors, and the device exploded about 3:30 a.m. as a bomb technician was trying to dismantle it, county fire department spokesman Mark Brady said.

“Nobody in the area knew it was in the house,” ATF spokesman Mike Campbell said. “I don’t think the owner of the residence even knew what was in the house.”

Firefighters extinguished the ensuing blaze in about 15 minutes, Mr. Brady said.

“Those things sometimes occur during those types of operations,” he said. “They’re not totally unexpected.”

Prince George’s County police fielded a tip Wednesday that Mr. Weiler had stolen money from his parents and had told friends of his plan to attack the abortion clinic. Officers passed on the information to federal agents.

Police also discovered that Mr. Weiler was convicted in 2003 in Utah for obstructing police, according to the affidavit. It is not clear what his punishment was for that conviction.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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