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17-year-old charged with threatening terrorism

October 25, 2009

A former MSU freshman no longer is enrolled in the university and is in jail on a $150,000 bond following his Tuesday arrest for making a terrorist threat or false report of terrorism.

Zachariah M. Aslam, a 17-year-old from South Rockwood, Mich., was arrested after police were informed he was making threats, according to a statement from the MSU Police.

Aslam was an enrolled student before the arrest, MSU spokesman Terry Denbow said, declining to comment further. The FBI was involved in investigating, FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said. Aslam was arraigned Friday in East Lansing’s 54-B District Court before Judge Richard Ball.

Berchtold referred all questions regarding the case to the MSU police. MSU police Sgt. Shaun Mills said police could not comment on the case.

Aslam’s neighbors and acquaintances said they were shocked by the arrest. History sophomore Chris Rivard, Aslam’s former roommate, said he had a hard time believing the charges could be true.

Aslam was a “very nice guy” who brought home extra snacks from an event with the crew team he was on, Rivard said.

“Just from living with him for a couple of months, it doesn’t seem like he had a violent bone in his body,” he said.

Rivard said he did not see anything in Aslam to make him anticipate the arrest.

“He was known for making some outlandish comments, but it’s definitely Zach. … And you’d go, ‘Well, that’s just Zach,’” he said.

Aslam’s profile on Facebook listed his academic programs as computer engineering, physics and math. It included many updates, some of including references to chemicals and weapons.

Fisheries and wildlife senior Zach Darter, who lives on Aslam’s former floor, said Aslam was friendly but a loner and many floormates did not know him.

“You never heard anything about him,” Darter said.

Aslam currently is being held in the Ingham County Jail, although that could change, Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III said. Dunnings said he expects Aslam’s pretrial exam to take place sometime in December.

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