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Alleged Russian bomb-maker facing federal charges

By: Maria Miller

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- A Russian national accused of building a bomb to "blow things up" in Altoona is now in bigger trouble.

Investigators said they found a bomb and bomb-making materials inside Vladislav Miftakhov's apartment on North Ninth Avenue last month after responding to investigate a marijuana-growing operation.

He's been in jail since. A court hearing scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled. Little did anyone know the reason was because the federal government was about to take over the case.

On Thursday the feds filed one count against him. Prosecutors said they'll be able to get a stiffer sentence by taking this route.

During a press conference investigators elaborated on the materials they found inside that apartment and the damage the devices could have caused.

"For some reason if this guy decided to set this thing off, there could have been a disaster for that campus and for the kids involved in it," said Richard Consiglio, district attorney for Blair County. "My main concern is what could have happened here or what his intent might have been."

It's a case Consiglio said is so large and a case that had the potential to harm so many people that it was best to be handled at the federal level.

"You see today numerous people that are either living here in the U.S. or even U.S. citizens that sympathize with these various terrorist groups in various other countries around the world and you don't know what these people are thinking," Consiglio said.

As federal charges were filed Thursday, new details emerged about the materials and devices allegedly found inside Miftakohvs Altoona apartment and the potential danger they presented to the community.

"Any of these devices if you get them into a confined area, it's going to cause significant both property damage as well as injury to anybody that's nearby," said Sam Rabadi, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

New documents released Thursday speak of another item found in his apartment -- a .44-caliber casing with a small scroll inside that read, "If you find this, you will never find me," signed Vladislav Miftakhov.

While police have said Miftakohv's only known intention was to "blow things up," federal investigators said the devices and materials they found provide their own intent.

"Regardless of their intended use. the federal laws exist to track and monitor inherently dangerous weapons like bombs and explosives," said U.S. Attorney David Hickton of the Western District of Pennsylvania. "Making and possessing a destructive device is a serious offense that comes with serious consequences."

Miftakohv was taken from the Blair County Prison Thursday morning and transported to his arraignment in Johnstown where he was handed over to the custody of the U.S. marshalls. His bond was not set but should be discussed Monday during his preliminary hearing.

If Miftakhov is convicted, he's facing 10 years in prison.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times