A man whose suspicious vehicle triggered a scare on Capitol Hill on Monday has apologized for parking so close to a Memorial Day concert event with a car full of propane gas and a pressure cooker. Israel Shimeles told NBC 4 Washington that the suspicious items were taken from his food truck, and that it was “stupid” of him not to realize that police would be immediately alarmed by a car with those contents parked so close to a large holiday gathering.
Shimeles was arrested on Monday for driving with a suspended license and since released with a citation, the report notes. His car was significantly damaged, as bomb rescue teams extracted the suspicious materials and proceeded to detonate them in a contained space on the National Mall. Because “further investigation revealed a pressure cooker, and an odor of gasoline was detected,” explained a police spokeswoman, experts were brought in to blow up the pressure cooker safely in the event that it had been filled with explosive material.
Shimeles explained to NBC that parking with such contents in his car near the Memorial Day event was not at all an attempt to execute a terrorist attack, but merely a decision he should have thought out more. “I just happened to be there,” he explained. “I should have thought about it a little bit more. You know, if I had to do it again, absolutely I would have been a little more careful.” Shimeles issued a blanket apology “for the inconvenience all those people [sic] to enjoy the festivities that you know I delayed it [sic] because of something stupid that I should have thought a little bit more about it. That’s that.”
Shimeles holds no ill will towards the police because in their situation, he tells NBC, “I would have done the same thing … right in front of the Capitol, of course.”
As for why the food truck items were in his car to begin with, Shimeles says there was simply insufficient space at the moment in the truck, so he moved the materials to his car.
Shimeles’ explanation of the event clarifies a statement by D.C. police that they had let him go because his explanation for why his car, containing those materials, were in the area “checked out.”
Pressure cooker bombs–a type of improvised explosive device–have become increasingly common among would-be terrorists with little resources. As PopSci explains, recipes for such explosives appeared in issues of the famed terrorist guide The Anarchist Cookbook in 1971 and later in the first issue of al-Qaeda magazine Inspire. Evidence shows that terrorist training camps in Afghanistan commonly taught recruits how to make a bomb out of a pressure cooker, as well. The pressure cooker became a particularly noteworthy makeshift bomb after its use in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. A copy of Inspire was found on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s computer.