Florida Army veteran arrested after allegedly planting IED at VA hospital

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Mark Edward Allen

(U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida photo)

An Army veteran was arrested after he allegedly planted a bomb at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Florida and continued to make more devices at home, officials said.


Mark Edward Allen, 60, was charged Tuesday with possession of unregistered explosive devices, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida announced.

Authorities were first alerted to the improvised explosive device (IED) in late May after receiving a call from the Veterans Affairs hospital in Bay Pines about a suspected bomb, according to a criminal complaint.

A bomb squad determined the device contained a 9-volt battery, electrical wires, an improvised initiator, unknown powder and a clothespin switch, the complaint read. All of the components are typically used to construct IEDs.

Bomb technicians rendered that the device was safe. FBI members then obtained video surveillance footage showing a man leaving the IED at the hospital around 5 a.m. on May 29.

Two days later, during the investigation into the first bomb, they were alerted of another.

A woman called to say that her husband, identified as Allen, made another IED at his home, according to the complaint.

The woman, who was not identified, said when Allen was sleeping she put the IED in the trunk of her car and drove it to a friend's house nearby "because she was scared."

Officials determined that the second IED was similar to the one found at the hospital and that Allen, of St. Petersburg, was responsible for them, the attorney's office said.

A database search showed that Allen did not register any of the devices in the National Registration and Transfer Record, as required by law, according to the attorney's office.

He made his initial court appearance after his arrest Tuesday. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

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©2019 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

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