News

Bomb threat suspect found

The FBI officially indicted Adam Stuart Busby on Aug. 22 for sending over 40 threatening emails to the University of Pittsburgh last year. Busby’s emails were part of a series of over 100 bomb threats issued to Pitt throughout the spring semester. Busby, the founder of the Scottish National Liberation Army, is currently in an Irish prison awaiting an extradition hearing for threats he allegedly made about airliners travelling between London and New York City.

According to a statement on the FBI’s website, Busby is indicted on 35 counts: 17 counts of wire fraud, 16 counts of maliciously conveying false information in the form of bomb threats, and two counts of international extortion.

In addition to the Pitt bomb threats, Busby has been charged with sending emails in 2010 threatening to poison water supplies in England, and specifically Gordon Brown, who was prime minister of the United Kingdom at the time. The 64-year-old Scottish nationalist is known mainly for his hoaxes; while the Scottish National Liberation Army has carried out or attempted more overt acts of terrorism in the past, Busby suffers from multiple sclerosis and is bound to a wheelchair.

“I was not in the least bit surprised [by the charges],” David Leslie, a retired Scottish reporter who personally knows Busby, said in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. “His motive is publicity. Busby glories in publicity. He will target anyone or any organization that he feels will gain him publicity.”

Busby’s motive is unclear. The FBI declined to speculate about his reasoning, and Busby has no direct connection to either the university or the city. In his interview, Leslie told the Post-Gazette that it was likely not a deeply thought-out action, and was possibly inspired by the presence of a UPMC hospital in Dublin.

While the threats Busby has been charged with were some of the most prominent of those made against Pitt, nobody has been charged for the other threats, including the initial ones written inside bathrooms on campus. Pitt rescinded its offer of a $50,000 reward for information after a group calling itself the “Threateners,” now identified as Busby, claimed responsibility for some of the threats and demanded that the reward be removed.

Extradition from Ireland is historically hard to accomplish, and authorities in both the U.S. and the U.K. seem to view Busby as a nuisance more than anything, according to Leslie’s interview with the Post-Gazette. The FBI did not make any statements regarding extradition. Leslie believes that the U.S. will likely not push hard for Busby’s extradition.

In his official statement, Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg thanked local and federal law enforcement as well as the Pitt community for their support during the bomb threat fiasco. He cited examples of people who went out of their way to help, including a canine officer from McKeesport who made late-night trips on his own time to perform bomb sweeps, and faculty members who patrolled doorways and conducted classes on campus lawns.

“Everyone in the University of Pittsburgh community is deeply grateful for the many forms of help that were extended to us while our campus was under siege and for all of the hard work that was done,” Nordenberg said in the statement.

Although Busby’s indictment has provided some answers, many students remain puzzled.

Carnegie Mellon sophomore computer science major Eric Lee said, “Considering that no bombs were actually detonated at the school, it seems almost fitting that the threats were as random as they were pointless.”
Some, like Pitt first-year engineering major Erin Sarosi, are just happy to see progress. Sarosi applied to Pitt while the threats were occurring. “It wasn’t hindering me from going here,” Sarosi said. “I think it’s still a pretty safe campus.”