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FBI: Mechanic threatened base

SALT LAKE CITY — An aircraft mechanic sent e-mails claiming he would detonate explosives at a Utah Air Force base and kill six hostages if the U.S. did not remove all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, authorities said Wednesday.

Five buildings at Hill Air Force Base were evacuated Tuesday after the e-mails began surfacing, but the threat turned out to be false and no hostages were taken, FBI agent Tim Fuhrman said.

William Stiffler, 39, was unarmed when he was arrested Tuesday in Malad, Idaho, as he prepared to board an employee shuttle to the base, Fuhrman said.

Stiffler has worked on C-130 planes at Hill since 2001. He was charged with threatening to kill and injure people and appeared Wednesday in federal court in Salt Lake City. He was returned to jail to await a detention hearing Friday.

The case was assigned to defense attorney Bob Steele, who said he had just met Stiffler shortly before the court appearance.

Fuhrman said FBI headquarters received an e-mail from Stiffler about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, followed by another with similar content three hours later.

The first e-mail came from a computer on the base, and the second from a computer at Stiffler’s home, according to court documents. Authorities said Stiffler acknowledged sending the e-mails.

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