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Bomb mosques { August 25 2002 }

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August 25, 2002
Police Say Man Accused in Plot Had Explosives

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 24 (AP) A doctor suspected of hatching a plot to blow up dozens of mosques and an Islamic education center had enough expertise and firepower to carry it out, the police said today.

The doctor, Robert J. Goldstein, a foot specialist, had an arsenal powerful enough to level the 200-unit town house complex where he lives and a detailed "mission template" full of instructions, officials said.

Deputies also found a typed list of about 50 Islamic places of worship in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area and elsewhere in Florida, prosecutors said.

The director of an Islamic society whose mosque was on Dr. Goldstein's list said worshipers would increase their vigilance.

"We have to open our eyes," said Mohammad Sultan, director of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay.

Dr. Goldstein, 37, was arrested on Friday and charged with possession of a nonregistered destructive device and attempting to use an explosive to damage and destroy Islamic centers. He was held today without bail.

When the police searched Dr. Goldstein's home in Seminole, near St. Petersburg, they found a cache of up to 40 weapons, including .50-caliber machine guns and sniper rifles and two M72 rocket launchers. They also uncovered more than 30 explosive devices, including 20 live bombs, hand grenades and a five-gallon gasoline bomb with a timer.

"If one of those bombs were to have gone off, that town house would have been destroyed," said Carlos Baixauli, a federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms special agent. "If the others exploded, we would have lost most of that town house complex."

The police were called to Dr. Goldstein's home before dawn Friday after his mother asked them to make a safety check. Dr. Goldstein's wife, Kristi, said he was threatening to kill her, according to an affidavit.

It took the police 30 minutes to coax Dr. Goldstein out of the home, which was rigged with trip wires and surveillance cameras.

"He was just a smart guy," said Detective Cal Dennie of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department. "He knew his stuff. It was like a James Bond thing."

Dr. Goldstein was placed in custody under a state law that allows involuntary commitment for psychiatric evaluation.

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