He wanted it to be a wake-up call to America — that a terrorist could strike anytime, anywhere.
That was what Michael Sibley told investigators in March, more than four months after he left two partially assembled pipe bombs by a tree perched on a hill in a park in an Atlanta suburb, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court. The devices were inside a backpack that, among other things, included copies of the Quran and the book, “The Rape of Kuwait.”
“Sibley stated he is a ‘patriot’ and he felt no one was paying attention to what was going on in the world,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “Sibley felt if he placed the package in a Roswell, (Georgia), park then people would get that this type of activity could happen anywhere.”
Neither of the improvised explosive devices went off. Federal authorities charged Sibley with conveying false or misleading information and “maliciously (attempting) to damage or destroy” government property.
On Wednesday, the 67-year-old Marietta, Georgia, resident pleaded guilty to the first count as part of a deal with prosecutors.
When reached Thursday at his home, Sibley declined comment to CNN about the plea or the case.
Court documents, as well as a press release Thursday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern Georgia, shed light on what happened and give his perspective, as related by investigators.
They state that Sibley used his computer to research how to make a bomb, eventually putting two devices together in his garage. The U.S. attorney’s office called them “two completely constructed pipe bombs” with nails and screws taped to the outside and ready for remote detonation, though there was no power source to set it off.
He put these devices in a backpack he bought at a garage sale and scrawled on it the name “Mina Khodari, … because it looked foreign,” the affidavit said.
Also in the backpack were the Quran and the other book, inside which were the schedule of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and the area’s transportation system, MARTA, as well as Jewish center locations, according to the affidavit.
“Sibley stated he placed these items in the books because he knew law enforcement would consider them soft targets,” the FBI agent wrote, referring to the subway system and a Falcons game.
On November 4, 2014, the backpack was set by a tree alongside a hilly trail in Roswell’s Vickery Creek Park in the Chattahoochee River National Recreations Area.
It first got the attention of visitors to the park, then local police, who safely disabled the bombs.
Sibley didn’t talk to authorities about the case until March 16. Four days later, he requested another meeting, when he “confessed to agents” and gave his side.
“Mr. Sibley stated that he placed the bag with these devices, the books and other items in the park to ‘wake up’ people in the United States,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in its release. “He related that he believes the Mexican border is poorly defended and that many people are entering this country illegally.”
Sibley was released from custody on March 25 after posting bond, then formally arraigned on September 9.
His sentencing is set for January 21, 2016. Federal sentencing guidelines suggest he could get anywhere from a fine to a five-year prison sentence on.