A Greenwich Village couple, affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, was arrested over the weekend for allegedly having a cache of weapons and bomb making materials in their apartment. Morgan Gliedman (27) and her boyfriend Aaron Greene (31) were found to be in possession of a sawed off shotgun, nine high-capacity rifle magazines, a flare launcher and seven grams of the powerful explosive Hexamethlene Triperoxide Diamine (HMTD), which prompted an evacuation of the surrounding area. Additionally, they had a number of documents outlining how to create various bomb making materials, homemade booby traps and improvised submachine guns. This included a copy of ‘The Terrorist Encyclopedia.’ Police discovered the weapons while investigating Gliedman for alleged credit card theft. She was also charged with drug possession earlier this year. Gliedman comes from a prominent New York family and is currently nine months pregnant. Greene is a Harvard graduate who is known for his ‘extreme’ political views. He has also faced charges of assault and weapons possession in the past.
Although details regarding motive and intent remain unclear, the situation appears atypical given the couple’s backgrounds. Greene’s criminal record, which includes weapons and assault charges, could indicate intent to develop and use an explosive device. His extremist views could have been the impetus for a violent action. Some members of the domestic protest movement have been arrested for plots against infrastructure, assaultive behavior, and/or other crimes against property. Five people are currently being held on terrorism related charges in Chicago for making threats during the May 2012 NATO Summit.
HMTD is a peroxide based explosive that is sensitive to heat, shock and friction. It is a primary explosive and can be used to detonate secondary explosives. HMTD’s components of hydrogen peroxide, hexamine and citric acid are readily available and easily obtained. HMTD is extremely dangerous to manufacture and reacts with most common metals, which can lead to unplanned detonations. HMTD, or a similar peroxide based compound, is believed to have been used in the London metro and bus bombings on July 7, 2005 and was possibly the planned explosive in the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot. It is a credit to the NYPD that during their investigation, they did not handle the substance as a possible narcotic but collected it with the care due for explosive compounds. Errors have been made during investigations in the past with regards to mistaking explosives for illegal narcotic substances.