Two resettled Bhutanese refugees of Nepali origin were arrested in Lake County, Ohio, for allegedly threatening to blow up the White House.
According to local media reports, Guru A Dhimal, 28, of Syracuse, New York, and Bhagirath Koirala, 67, of Columbus, Ohio, were arrested on April 10 after Dhimal allegedly called 911 from a running Greyhound bus, saying he was a member of al Qaeda and had plans to destroy the White House.
A US website www.fox8.com has posted the transcript of the alleged conversation between Dhimal and 911 dispatcher. Dhimal is heard saying he knew some of the people who had planned to destroy the White House on May 1.
Dhimal is heard telling the dispatcher that he was a member of al Qaeda and that a bomb was being taken to Washington, DC, to destroy the White House.
Dhimal told the dispatcher that he was on a bus in the Cleveland area and other terrorists were following the bus.
When the dispatcher asked Dhimal if the bomb was on the bus, Dhimal replied in negative.
When the dispatcher asked him why he called the 911, he told him that he wanted to report the matter to the 911. He also told the emergency responder that he wanted to talk to the President of the USA.
Dhimal made this threatening call when he was travelling from Buffalo to Cleveland. Koirala was also with him in the same bus. They were charged with spreading fear and panic among the public.
A resettled Bhutanese refugee, who is now a US government employee in Pennsylvania, told THT over phone that Dhimal was suffering from mental disorder for the last four years and his call to 911 was a hoax. According to him, Dhimal implicated Koirala as one of his accomplices, but the latter was not aware of that.
Bhutan News Network, a news portal run by a group of resettled Bhutanese, reported that after the 911 call was made, one of the suspects approached the bus driver and the driver pulled over. When the police arrived, the bus was swept by the bomb squad but no explosives were found.
The two suspects were arraigned at Painesville Municipal Court on Monday. Koirala was released on a personal bond on the same day after Hindu-American Foundation, an American Hindu human rights group advocating the rights of Hindu community in the USA, pleaded that Koirala was innocent.
Dhimal was issued a $25,000 bond and must undergo a psychological evaluation.
According to the resettled Bhutanese who declined to be quoted, Dhimal’s family has produced medical reports and other documents related to his mental health problems in the court.
Almost 100,000 Bhutanese refugees have been resettled so far in eight developed countries, mostly in the USA, since the launch of the third-country-resettlement programme in 2007. A growing tendency of mental health problems has been seen among the resettled Bhutanese.
DNS Dhakal, Acting Chairman of the Bhutan National Democratic Party, said frustration had been rising among them due to detachment from their motherland and kin for long, which has led to mental illness and suicidal tendency among them.