WASHINGTON -- The FBI released new details on Monday about a terrorist sympathizer from South Carolina that at one point, hid a pipe bomb in a teddy bear.
The teddy bear was left in a basket in the middle of the road, the FBI said, on Feb. 15, 2018 in Anderson County, South Carolina.
It was just one of several devices – both hoaxes and real pipe bombs – left by Wesley Dallas Ayers, then 26.
Ayers’ first bomb, the FBI said, was spotted by a man and his daughter driving down a rural highway in Anderson County.
They stopped to inspect it – a glowing wicker basket – and it exploded, causing minor burns to his leg. The next day, another resident reported he’d seen a similar looking device days earlier on a nearby bridge. Police tracked it down, inside a black box with a “letter that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and said the community was no longer safe,” FBI officials said Monday.
Eventually, police spoke with a man who said he knew someone who had been practicing building bombs in his home, Ayers.
Investigators found identical bomb components to the ones used in devices and exact copies of the writings that had been found at the scene, FBI said. They also said they found two guns and a type of vest known to be used by suicide bombers.
Police said he had self-radicalized, “consuming terrorist propaganda from Anwar al-Awlaki, Osama bin Laden and others.”
Ayers pleaded guilty in October 2018 to weapons of mass destruction and firearm charges. He was sentenced in February of 2019 to 30 years in prison, FBI officials said.