The thought occurred to me to put this story together in relation to the endless speculation about the Boston Bombing as well as others that have
happened in recent years. The general consensus among a segment of society seems to be, any bomb with any level of sophistication must be Government
produced or at least, assisted.
Personally, I believe that to be horse puckey.
That's not to say Uncle Sammy doesn't do some downright nasty things from time to time. Oh, the old guy in the big hat and red/white/blue costume has
been known to do some unthinkably bad things over the decades. Many times over, if the full truth be known, I'm sure.
However, Uncle Sammy need not have involvement for bad things to happen. The difference, in my opinion, is critical to examining events as they occur
today, and keeping perspective to try and understand what happens behind headlines and popular trends of belief. (Aside from that, this is a
fascinating story to tell!)
The date was August 26, 1980. The place was Stateline, Nevada and the location was one usually reserved for good times and/or heartache, depending
entirely on which way Lady Luck took to smiling on a given day. On this day, it wasn't Lady Luck at work.....it was a mad bomber with a mission.
Imagine you're the management of Harvey's Resort Hotel and Casino and settling in for a usual day of gamblers, guests and the usual assortment drawn
to such a location. Just a normal day, I'm sure. They always are, it seems, when they turn the worst. Here is the story of how that happened.
(Material is drawn from the FBI, which as a public domain source, I draw a bit liberally from ...I'm sure they won't mind)
In the early morning hours of August 26, 1980—29 years ago today—men wearing white jumpsuits and pretending to deliver an IBM copy machine
rolled a bomb into Harvey’s Resort Hotel and Casino in Stateline, Nevada, near Lake Tahoe.
Just rolled right in..Pretty as ya please and I'm sure, given what it was, with a pucker factor off the charts. This was no mock-up, but the real deal
with 0's on the end.
When looked at closer? It contained a note, almost like an invoice for delivery. This 'invoice' was a nightmare scenario, however.
TO THE MANAGEMENT:
STERN WARNING TO THE MANAGEMENT AND BOMB SQUAD:
Do not move or tilt this bomb, because the mechanism controlling the detonators in it will set it off at a movement of less than .01 of the open end
Ricter scale. Don’t try to flood or gas the bomb. There is a float switch and an atmospheric pressure switch set at 26.00-33.00. Both are attached
to detonators. Do not try to take it apart. The flathead screws are also attached to triggers and as much as ¼ to ¾ of a turn will cause an
explosion. In other words this bomb is so sensitive that the slightest movement either inside or outside will cause it to explode.
Excerpt from Ransom Demand Letter
(Harvey Bomb - Courtesy of FBI File Photo)
The man who thought this up was found to be a 59yr old Gambler with a real bad streak for luck. This would prove to be no exception in his losing
He demanded a cool $3 million in exchange for instructions to disarm 2 of 3 trigger/timer mechanisms which, while not rendering the device safe, would
allow for it to be moved and taken to a safe location. Well, the FBI weren't just minted from the Stupid Section, and wisely declined such an offer of
help with their new found problem. He didn't get his money. Harvey's Resort Hotel and Casino did, however, get a bit of remodeling they hadn't been
planning, in any way.
Due to the sophistication and unstable nature of the device, the decision was made to detonate it "in-place", which, in this case, meant inside the
Hotel/Casino itself. A rather shocking move that testifies to the level of sophistication for the device. It made quite an impression ...as well as
(Moment of Detonation - Courtesy of FBI File Photo)
(Interior View following Detonation - Courtesy of FBI File Photo)
As most criminals do, this one made a key mistake. A few of them, to be sure, but one BIG one. It reminds me of how the bombers of the 1993 World
Trade Center attack were nailed in record time ...but this takes dumb to a whole new level, given the intelligence shown for creating the original
Birges, Sr., said to be an inveterate gambler who had lost a substantial amount of money at Harvey’s, was caught (with the help of an alert
clerk at a nearby hotel who had written down the license plate of the bomb delivery van) and convicted—
I guess he should have thought of license plates and people writing things down, even in the age of analog life and digital cameras still being many
many years distant for being a factor.
He also had enlisted the help of his two sons ...who received suspended sentences in exchange for helping to put dear 'ol Dad into prison for life,
where he died in 1996.
The bomb blast hadn't been intentional at that level. It was the result of a shaped C-4 charge which had been intended to blast the device into
smaller pieces and render it "safe" in a classic lose/lose approach. Lose small or lose big? They'd determined by what we know in the public, after
the fact, that they couldn't move it and weren't going to attempt to disarm it. They X-rayed it in-place and apparently determined it wasn't feasible.
They believed the note. That's a very good thing, as it turned out.
Far from blowing the larger device into two pieces to prevent a large detonation, they did, in fact, detonate the main charge of 1,000lbs of TNT. The
damage was a hole in the Hotel, 5 stories high.
This came 30 hours after first discovery of the device and followed a thorough evacuation of the building and area for a good distance in all
directions. I can't imagine the "oops" moment crossing the minds of all involved as they beheld the full force of the blast, basically gutting the
Anyway, That's the story of one of the most sophisticated IED's the FBI has ever come across and holds that distinction to this day. A mock-up of the
original is, according to the article, used for training purposes at the FBI now.
So, in short, it doesn't take a Government to make an incredibly advanced bomb. It just takes a sick sick man or men and the total disregard for human
life and destruction their creation is designed to cause. In this case, it took the most unlikely of people with no stated background for being
capable of such a feat.
It's a scary thing to consider, because it speaks to the pure randomness of such a thing and how it really can happen anywhere, at anytime and to
anyone. No rhyme or reason. No master control behind it. No shadowy figures to make sure something is bad..yet not "too bad". We can only imagine the
damage, had the "Harvey's Bomb" been jostled by an employee or innocent bystander before authorities reached it.
Original Source Article - FBI 'A Byte out of History' (2009)
edit on 1-5-2013 by Wrabbit2000 because: minor correction