Bar employee helps police thwart mosque bomb threat

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Joe Nahhas, pictured in his office at JS Fields Pub & Grill, helped police catch Roger Stockham, who allegedly planned on blowing up the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Before Roger Stockham was arrested Jan. 24 for allegedly planning to blow up the Islamic Center of America, he drew the attention of a local bar employee.

Joe Nahhas, operational manager of JS Fields Pub & Grill, 18490 Ford Road, alerted police to Stockham that afternoon shortly after the would-be bomber came in.

Nahhas first noticed that something was wrong in the tone of voice Stockham was using to describe what he was planning.

“He was acting like he’s the commander in chief,” Nahhas said. “It wasn’t normal conversation. He was open about it, like he was giving an order.”

Stockham, who spoke with what Nahhas described as pride, was arrested by police in the parking lot of the mosque, just west of the bar at 19500 Ford Road, with a trunk full of M-80 fireworks.

Nahhas said Stockham introduced himself as an operative of the mujahedeen from Indonesia, jahedeen from Indonesia, and that he said he was having a “magic moment.” “Mujahedeen” is an Arabic term meaning “holy warriors.”
Stockham, who converted to Islam in the 1970s according to published reports, told Nahhas he was a captain in the U.S. Army and served in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1975.

“He said he had issues with the government,” Nahhas said. “He said that the American government committed crimes against Muslims.

“He said that God gave him special privileges because he is a high-ranking member of the mujahedeen.”

Nahhas said Stockham told him he was going to have a “historical hour,” that he was going to make history and that there was going to be a big explosion that night.

“He had his computer here,” Nahhas said, gesturing to the table, “and he said that he is typing letters to the press to be released later after the explosion.”

Nahhas said Stockham tried to give him a package, but did not know what was in it. He said Stockham told him the package also was to be delivered to the press.

“He thought I might be impressed by it,” Nahhas said.

Nahhas was unsure if Stockham was a regular at the restaurant, but knew he had come in before and asked someone what the requirements were to cross the border into Canada.

“He asked a lady that was here what was required to go across the Canadian bridge,” he said.

After finding out what Stockham planned to do, Nahhas said he acted quickly.

“I thought about it quick,” he said. “If this guy’s going to have a big explosion tonight, I have to know where it is and then inform the police.”

Nahhas said he asked one of the chefs to inform the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

After Stockham realized Nahhas was not going to cooperate, Stockham tried to leave. Nahhas said he tried to talk him into staying and asked him what he planned to do, even following Stockham out to his car.

Nahhas said after Stockham said what he wanted to do, he thought about taking action into his own hands, but thought better of it.

“I thought about attacking him here myself,” he said, “but I thought I might hurt myself, or I might get sued if I attack him.”

Nahhas said he began to press Stockham as to where the attack would talk place, but Stockham refused to give a definite answer except for the mosque.

“I asked him many times, ‘Where?’” Nahhas said. “He said here, there and the mosque.”

Nahhas said that after he called 911, Dearborn police came to the bar and alerted other local departments to look for Stockham.

Nahhas said he needed to try to do something in order to prevent people from getting hurt, and that personal beliefs don’t matter when people’s lives are threatened.

“That was my focus,” he said. “I didn’t care much about the politics, or what his reasons were.

“There is no good in killing people.”