DETROIT – A judge on Tuesday ordered a competency hearing for a mentally ill Vietnam War veteran accused of planning to attack a prominent Michigan mosque with fireworks.
Roger Stockham, of Imperial Beach, Calif., was to stand trial in Michigan on terrorism and explosives charges for allegedly plotting to detonate powerful fireworks at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.
Wayne County Circuit Judge Bruce Morrow ordered a competency hearing for Stockham after learning that the 63-year-old sent a letter to the center last week.
Defense attorney Matthew Evans said Stockham's letter didn't threaten physical violence, but he declined to divulge its contents.
"It was just a rant — it really didn't make sense," Evans said.
Stockham was arrested Jan. 24 outside the mosque. He has said he only planned to spray-paint an anti-Iraq war message on the building, not set off fireworks police say they found in his car.
Stockham has several prior convictions and suffers from bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders. The Muslim convert has spent much of the past three decades in prison or psychiatric hospitals.
He's charged in Michigan with making a false report or threat of terrorism and possessing explosives with unlawful intent. Evans said he faces at least three years in prison if convicted of both charges.
Kassem Allie, the Islamic Center's executive administrator, declined to discuss the letter. But he said Stockham still poses a threat regardless of his competency.
"We are convinced based on what we understand his history is that either way public safety should be the first consideration," Allie said.
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