Podiatrist's arsenal part of blueprint for terror


In addition to weapons, detailed plans to bomb Islamic

schools and mosques are found in his Seminole home,

records say.



By LEANORA MINAI and MAUREEN BYRNE AHERN

 St. Petersburg Times

published August 24, 2002



http://www.sptimes.com/2002/08/24/TampaBay/Podiatrist_s_arsenal_.shtml



SEMINOLE -- The plan for the military-style "mission"

showed a drawing of an "Islamic Education Center."



Timers on plastic explosives would go off in 15

minutes, taking down buildings and killing Muslims.

Bombs and land mines would detonate in parking lots

and playgrounds, killing police and fleeing students.



Dr. Robert Goldstein was taken into custody Thursday

evening at his Seminole home after an argument with

his wife. Weapons included many guns, hand grenades

and more than 30 bombs.



This was the blueprint of a 37-year-old podiatrist

from Seminole, Robert Jay Goldstein, who had compiled

a list of 50 Islamic centers and mosques in the Tampa

Bay area and Florida, federal authorities said Friday.



"He had enough weapons to take on an army," said Cal

Dennie, Pinellas County sheriff's spokesman. Indeed,

authorities removed an arsenal of weapons and enough

explosives to destroy not only his townhome, but up to

10 others.



Goldstein was charged Friday with possessing 20

illegal bombs and attempting to damage and destroy

Islamic centers and mosques.



During a hearing before a federal magistrate in Tampa,

his attorneys said Goldstein needed three medications

that he had been taking.



"We do have some preliminary concerns about his

competency," said Hollywood attorney Myles Malman.



Goldstein wore a hospital gown open at the back and

shackles at his feet. He sobbed and gagged into a

white tissue. Appearing dazed, he stared straight

ahead and held his head as the lawyers talked.



Goldstein, who does not have a criminal record in

Florida, will remain in a Hillsborough County Jail

pending a bond hearing at 2 p.m. Tuesday in U.S.

District Court in Tampa.



Federal agents say Goldstein is licensed and

registered to purchase and possess most of the

firearms found in his house. He was not licensed to

have any of the explosives and destructive devices.



"That's what he's facing charges on," said Carlos

Baixauli, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol,

Tobacco and Firearms.



Pinellas sheriff's deputies took Goldstein into

custody Thursday after going to his Seminole townhome

at 6:45 p.m. to break up an argument he was having

with his wife, Kristi L. Goldstein, 28.



When deputies arrived at Unit 112 in the Townhomes of

Lake Seminole at 9209 Seminole Blvd., she was standing

outside.



Kristi Goldstein, who managed her husband's office,

Seminole Podiatry Center, told deputies her husband of

four years threatened to kill her, according to the

criminal affidavit. She also told authorities that her

husband had 60 guns in the townhome and that she

feared for her safety.



After 30 minutes, Goldstein came out of the home and

talked with deputies. At 9 p.m., deputies searched the

townhome.



They found an arsenal: two light anti-armor rockets, a

.50-caliber sniper rifle, hand grenades, assorted guns

and assault rifles and 20 homemade bombs, among other

lethal weapons and magazines and articles on how to

build destructive devices.



Baixauli, the ATF agent, said the explosives, while

homemade, were functional.



"We found numerous devices, any one of which would

have caused severe damage to that townhouse and the

surrounding townhouses," he said.



Baixauli said if one detonated, there would be a

domino effect.



"We would have lost eight to 10 townhouses, plus there

would have been a lot of collateral damage," he said.



Authorities also found a typed list of 50 Islamic

worship centers in the Tampa Bay area and Florida, the

criminal affidavit said. Attached to the list were

three pages that included a schematic drawing of an

unknown center and instructions on what to wear and

how to carry out an attack.



"OBJECTIVE: Kill all 'rags' at this Islamic Education

Center -- ZERO residual presence -- maximum effect,"

the plan read.



Authorities did not identify addresses of specific

targets.



Goldstein also had surveillance cameras monitoring the

entrance and exit of his home, as well as rooms

inside, authorities said.



"It showed you every aspect of the home," said Dennie,

the sheriff's spokesman. "If you snuck up the back, he

could see you."



From all appearances, Goldstein seemed ordinary. He

lived in a moderate townhouse with his wife and ran a

podiatry practice a few miles from home. Neighbors

said he stayed to himself most of the time, but that

he'd give a friendly wave every now and then around

their two-story townhome overlooking Lake Seminole.



Goldstein's fellow podiatrists and neighbors were

stunned to learn about the arrest. Colleagues said

Goldstein, who went to podiatry school in

Pennsylvania, did not mingle with fellow foot doctors

who were wined and dined by medical supply companies

at places such as Bern's Steak House and sports suites

at the Ice Palace.



"We never saw him," said Edward Bratton, 47, president

of the Pinellas County Podiatry Association.



As TV crews prepared for noon live shots Friday,

Goldstein's wife carried personal items from their

townhouse to her Ford Explorer. She refused to talk to

reporters, saying, "You're making my life more

miserable than it already is."



Around 12:30 p.m. she left with her Dalmatian on the

front passenger seat.



Neighbors wondered about Goldstein's motives.



Bob Jones, a retired police officer, said he was

shocked after hearing about the three-page document

detailing plans for blowing up an Islamic center.



"This is huge for Seminole," said Jones, 59, a

next-door neighbor. "If we find out Dr. Goldstein is a

terrorist, nothing would surprise me more."



He and Goldstein once chatted about their tattoos:

Goldstein has a tattoo of a hummingbird on his left

arm, and a tattoo of thorns around his right bicep.



Jones and his wife, Marge, moved into the unit next

door to the Goldsteins in June. "They were just great

neighbors," said Marge Jones, 56, a retired secretary.

"He just seemed so pleasant and nice." Once he offered

to help her carry in the groceries, she said.



Richard Krauss, a retired sales manager who lives in

the building next to Goldstein's, said he'd

occasionally wave to the podiatrist when he was

driving by in his black Porsche Boxster. "Otherwise,

he kept to himself," said Krauss, 67.



The owner of the strip center where Goldstein operated

Seminole Podiatry Center for nine years had a

discussion with Goldstein's wife.



Jack Grayson says about a year ago Kristi Goldstein

told him her husband was no longer a practicing Jew.

Grayson says he remembers Goldstein wearing a cross

when he dropped off his rent check.



"Wow, this is bizarre," Grayson said after learning of

Goldstein's alleged plans to blow up an Islamic

education center. "This just blows my mind."



One of Goldstein's patients stopped by the office

Friday morning to offer support to his wife, who

managed the office. No one was there and the door was

locked. Later in the day a note on the door said:

"Closed until further notice."



Reaction from the Muslim community was one of fear.



Mohammad Sultan,the imam (prayer leader) and director

of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay, said his mosque

was on the list found in Goldstein's home.



The society, located in east Tampa, is one of the

largest local mosques. It has a capacity of 1,700

members.



Sultan said that he and the other worshipers will

discuss the building's security in the coming days.



"We have to open our eyes," he said.



Still, Sultan said that he will not cancel any

services or planned events, including an open house

for the public on Sept. 14.



"People who do evil acts do not belong to any one race

or religion.



Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian activist in Tampa who

runs the the Islamic Academy of Florida, a Muslim

school in Tampa, said he is pleased authorities made

the arrest.



"It's very scary, extremely scary," said Al-Arian, a

professor at the University of South Florida. "It

looks like conspiracy to murder." Al-Arian himself is

at the center of a separate controversy over the

university's attempts to oust him over alleged

associations with terrorists.



-- Times staff writers Anita Kumar, Tamara Lush and

Chuck Murphy contributed to this report, as did Times

researchers John Martin and Barbara Oliver. Leanora

Minai can be reached at minai@sptimes.com or (727)

893-8406.





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