A French student obsessed with neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan has been arrested after his class project was determined to be four pipe bombs loaded with uranium dust he had purchased from eBay.
The 26-year-old man, who has not been identified, was arrested last week in the city of Colmar, in the northeast Haut-Rhin area near the border with Germany. The arrest was first reported by Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical weekly that also publishes hard news. The details of the case were confirmed to VICE World News by a police official in Paris.
A search of the suspect’s home found large amounts of neo-Nazi materials and a Ku Klux Klan hood and cloak from an illegal KKK group in Germany, just a few miles away from the site of the arrest.
“The suspect was not himself on the [security list] but we are checking his associations with other neo-Nazi groups in both France and Germany,” said the official. “He has not hidden his sympathies from investigators, there should be little problem determining if he was acting alone.”
“This is a local case that has been referred to local police and prosecutors but the hazardous materials team of the CMIR [Mobile Radiological Intervention Cell] in Colmar have reported the presence of radiological materials in multiple improvised devices to the national database in Paris,” said the police official, who works in counterterrorism and cannot be quoted.
“There are ample reasons to draw a link between the suspect, who remains in custody, and far-right ideologies, but the local authorities are responsible for the investigation into this and they have liaised with national databases and the [national security list] for possible dangerous associations with the far-right.”
On the 26th of August, teachers called the local cops for assistance after the 26-year-old student, who reportedly has significant developmental disabilities, announced to his class that he had successfully built four pipe bombs and loaded them with radioactive dust used in scientific experiments that he had purchased from eBay.
Upon arriving at the scene at the school, described as an adult vocational centre, police determined that at least three of the devices were fully functioning bombs and called for a bomb disposal team and hazardous materials crews that concluded the bombs were also radioactive, and began emergency cleanup procedures. There was no reported leak of radioactive materials or danger to the community once the bombs were dismantled by police, but an explosion would have posed significant clean up risks, said the police official.
“The main concern of course was that the bombs appeared to work,” they said. “So the primary threat is the conventional explosion. The material in the bombs, while not strong, was radioactive and would have required expensive and time-consuming cleanup procedures.”
The official refused to describe the exact makeup of the radioactive material, but uranium ore is available for purchase on eBay in the U.S.