September 10, 1996 in Nation/World

Reward For Bombers Prompts Threat ‘Rescind Your Bounty,’ Newspaper And Bank Told

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A threatening note demands removal of a reward in the unsolved bombings and bank robberies earlier this year in the Spokane Valley.

If the reward isn’t rescinded, the note - signed by a white supremacist sect - threatens retaliation, making a biblical reference to destruction by fire.

The note, sent to U.S. Bank, says “Your gods are paper” and “no match for Yahweh,” the Hebrew reference to God used by white supremacists and others.

“Publicly rescind your bounty and declare your gods powerless or those who worship at your alter will suffer His wrath,” the note says, misspelling the word “altar.”

The note was mailed to a U.S. Bank branch in Spokane, but a bank spokeswoman wouldn’t disclose whether it had been received at the same branch at Sprague and Mullan that was robbed on April 1 and July 12.

“The reward that we have in place remains,” said Mary Ruble at U.S. Bank’s headquarters in Portland.

“Security and safety for our customers and employees remain our chief concern,” she said.

The note, which appears to have been computer-generated, is being rushed to FBI behavioral scientists in Quantico, Va., for a threat assessment.

Militia and white supremacy experts said they believe the note and threat are authentic.

“We’re taking this seriously,” said FBI regional chief Burdena Pasenelli in Seattle.

A copy of the note - addressed to The Spokesman-Review - was sent through the U.S. mail and postmarked last Friday in Spokane. It was received by the newspaper Monday.

Authorities refused to say whether any other similar notes have surfaced.

The total reward being offered is $115,000. Of that amount, U.S. Bank is offering $100,000.

The note and copy were mailed in small white envelopes bearing U.S. flag stamps affixed in the same manner.

The bottom of the stamp design faces the right side of the envelope so the flag is horizontal.

A law enforcement official who examined the note said he thinks it is genuine and from people who will back their words with deeds.

“I believe what you have there is what we call a ‘pre-incident indicator,”’ said the official, who requested anonymity.

The return address lists only “Phinehas,” a reference to a shadowy white supremacy sect known as the Phineas Priesthood.

The Revised Standard Version of the King James Bible uses the spelling “Phinehas,” but the most-common spelling is “Phineas.”

The group’s logo was on notes left at an April 1 pipe-bombing at The Spokesman-Review Valley office and the robbery-bombing at the nearby U.S. Bank branch at Sprague and Mullan.

The same bank was robbed July 12 after a similar pipe bomb caused extensive damage at the nearby Valley office of Planned Parenthood.

There have been no arrests for either of the robbery-bombings.

“It’s still a very active investigation,” Pasenelli said, “and we have substantial resources committed to solving this case.”

Both robberies were carried out by a team of at least four masked gunmen who wore paramilitary clothing and carried assault rifles and multiple-cartridge shotguns.

During the first holdup April 1, the fleeing robbers detonated a pipe bomb inside the bank and shouted references to the Montana freemen.

That holdup occurred one week after the FBI arrested a leader of the Montana freeman, prompting an 81-day siege.

, DataTimes MEMO: Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. Reward stands A $115,000 reward is being offered to anyone who helps solve two Spokane Valley bank robberies and their companion bombings. U.S. Bank is donating $100,000 to the fund because of the continuing threat to its employees and the public. The FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and The Spokesman-Review are offering $5,000 each. Anyone with information about the bombings or robberies can call the FBI in Spokane at (509) 747-5195 or Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

2. Obadiah 18 The threatening note received by U.S. Bank and The Spokesman-Review made a reference to this Bible verse: “The house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; the house of Esau will be stubble, and they will set it on fire and consume it. “There will be be no survivors from the house of Esau. “The Lord has spoken.” - Life Application Bible, new international version

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. Reward stands A $115,000 reward is being offered to anyone who helps solve two Spokane Valley bank robberies and their companion bombings. U.S. Bank is donating $100,000 to the fund because of the continuing threat to its employees and the public. The FBI, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and The Spokesman-Review are offering $5,000 each. Anyone with information about the bombings or robberies can call the FBI in Spokane at (509) 747-5195 or Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

2. Obadiah 18 The threatening note received by U.S. Bank and The Spokesman-Review made a reference to this Bible verse: “The house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; the house of Esau will be stubble, and they will set it on fire and consume it. “There will be be no survivors from the house of Esau. “The Lord has spoken.” - Life Application Bible, new international version


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