War on Terror

Family Questioned by Police for Web Searches of Pressure Cookers, Backpacks

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Michele Catalano's Long Island, N.Y., home was visited by six police investigators on Wednesday because of the search terms that her family has used on the Internet.

Catalano (pictured) was searching on the web for pressure cookers, her husband was looking for backpacks and her son was looking up the Boston bombings from earlier this year.

The two Tsarnaev brothers allegedly used pressure cookers as casings for bombs, which were placed in backpacks and set off during the Boston Marathon earlier this year.

A FBI spokesman spokesperson told The Guardian on Thursday that none of its agents went to Catalano's house, but “she was visited by Nassau County Police Department … They were working in conjunction with Suffolk County Police Department.”

Catalano recounted the bizarre experience on Medium.com on Thursday:

They asked if they could search the house, though it turned out to be just a cursory search. They walked around the living room, studied the books on the shelf (nope, no bomb making books, no Anarchist Cookbook), looked at all our pictures, glanced into our bedroom, pet our dogs. They asked if they could go in my son’s bedroom but when my husband said my son was sleeping in there, they let it be.

Catalano said the authorities asked her and her husband numerous questions:

Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked.

Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? My husband said no, my wife uses it to make quinoa. What the hell is quinoa, they asked.                        

Catalano and her family were not charged with any crimes, but she still felt uneasy.

I felt a sense of creeping dread take over. What else had I looked up? What kind of searches did I do that alone seemed innocent enough but put together could make someone suspicious ... Where you have to watch every little thing you do because someone else is watching every little thing you do.

Catalano wrote an update on her Tumblr page:

We found out through the Suffolk Police Department that the searches involved also things my husband looked up at his old job. We were not made aware of this at the time of questioning and were led to believe it was solely from searches from within our house.

Source: Medium.com, The Guardian, Tumblr

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