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Friday, August 2, 2013

NY - 'Pressure cooker' and 'backpack' Internet search prompts visit from feds

Long Island, NY - Police say they have questioned a former employee of a New York computer company after his workplace computer search history revealed inquires for “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks,” but no criminality was found.

The Suffolk County Police Department released a statement Thursday saying detectives questioned the man after interviewing representatives from his former employer, which reported suspicious computer searches.

On Thursday, a Long Island woman writing under the name Michele Catalano speculated in a blog post that six agents from what she describes as the joint terrorism task force came to her home Wednesday because agents were monitoring the family’s Google searches. 

She writes that her husband was interviewed by police and that her son was asleep when they arrived. She did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The Suffolk County police department told a different story.

In an email sent to reporters on Thursday, the police said criminal intelligence detectives got a tip from a computer company that a former employee had conducted suspicious searches on a workplace computer.

The searches included “pressure cooker bombs” and “backpacks.”

“Suffolk County Police Detectives visited the subject’s home to ask about the suspicious Internet searches,” and the incident was ruled “non-criminal in nature,” according to the statement.

Spokesmen for the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Nassau County Police Department said they had not been involved in the incident.

In her blog post, Catalano said police arrived at her house at about 9 a.m., after she had left for work, but while her husband was home.

“Do you own a pressure cooker?” an officer asked her husband, according to Catalano’s account. Her husband responded the couple had a rice cooker to make quinoa. The next question: “What the hell is quinoa?”

A law enforcement source said the visit was made by local Long Island police.

Catalano said the incident left her shaken.

“All I know is - if I’m going to buy a pressure cooker in the near future, I’m not doing it online,” Catalano said.

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