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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘If you see something, say something’: WikiLeaks files explore MLK attempted bombing in Spokane

The arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange this week in London has renewed interest in the organization’s database of government and corporate documents, including some 1,600 entries concerning Spokane, about 100 of which focus on the attempted bombing of the 2011 Spokane MLK Day parade.

On February 27, 2012, Wikileaks posted about 5 million emails from a company called Stratfor, which describes itself as a “geopolitical intelligence platform” and that its “analyses and forecasts reveal the underlying significance and future implications of emerging developments.”

The Stratfor discussion regarding the attempted bombing included praise for Spokane’s response and the eventual arrest of Kevin William Harpham of Colville.

Harpham planted a backpack bomb along the parade route in downtown Spokane. While Stratfor’s communication about the threat does not appear to offer any revelations, it does contain commentary and speculations. The company appeared to be discoursing with the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the time of the event.

Much of the correspondence cites information from coverage by The Spokesman-Review.

On the day of the parade, part-time contract workers Mark Steiner, Brandon Klaus and Sherman Welpton noticed a backpack underneath a bench, and discovered it contained wires.

A Stratfor employee wrote an email that praised Spokane’s response, beginning with these three men: “I think the big takeaway with this one it is a perfect example of how citizen situational awareness and police response should work.

“These employees probably didn’t need any training, just saw something weird and called the cops,” the employee wrote. “The police were smart to use that limited intel to divert the parade while the EOD team figured it out. If you see something, say something.”

Another Stratfor employee compared Harpham to Eric Rudolph, who was responsible for a deadly bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, a comparison also drawn by The Spokesman-Review.

Correspondence also discussed Harpham’s white supremacist ideology. A Stratfor employee wrote, “It was only a matter of time before this crept back in to the mainstream.”

On Jan. 20, 2011, a Stratfor employee asked the FBI, “Reference Spokane MLK IED, lone wolf or small group?” and they answered “Too soon to tell but in the absence of proof of a conspiracy I go with lone wolf. Inspired or influenced is a different story. I am sure we will learn the perp is a member fringe or otherwise of a White Hate Group.”

A message to several Stratfor employees simply read “tearline topic?”

It could be referring to “Above the Tearline,” a series of videos Stratfor produced covering tactical security and counterintelligence. With intelligence documents, material above the tearline is considered classified. Stratfor never made a video about the attempted bombing in Spokane.

The WikiLeaks database includes a document from the State Department that revealed that after President Jimmy Carter’s May 5, 1978, visit to Spokane, the Soviet Union was angry that the president accused the Soviets of “innate racism” in its dealings with Africa, and accused them of trying to “buy friendship through the sale of destructive weapons designed to kill.”

Some other issues regarding Spokane in the database include Democratic National Committee emails about President Donald Trump’s Spokane rally on May 6, 2016, noting Trump’s talking points.

There were also other Stratfor emails, which discussed the half pound of TATP, or triacetone triperoxide, found in a Spokane Valley apartment. The email stated: “Looks like this is a divorce gone wrong, but interesting to see non-jihadis cooking up TATP.”