3 arrested in plot targeting Somali immigrants in Kansas

Breaking News: Federal prosecutors plan to announce charges related to a planned attack on the Somali immigrant community in Kansas.A law enforcement official said Friday that federal prosecutors in Wichita, Kansas, are announcing the arrests of three men in connection with the plot. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beal and FBI Special Agent Eric Jackson have scheduled a news conference late Friday in Wichita.

The Justice Department’s National Security Division created a new position a year ago to help coordinate investigations into violent homegrown extremism, like the one that resulted in the three arrests.

Here is the Department of Justice Press Release

Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, both 49, and of Liberal, Kansas, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, of Wright, Kansas, appeared in federal court to face a charge of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives), in connection with their plot to detonate bombs at an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas where Somali immigrants live and worship.

The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall of the District of Kansas.

“According to the complaint, these three defendants conspired to conduct a bombing attack against an apartment complex occupied by men, women and children in the Garden City, Kansas community,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Protecting our nation from such attacks, whether they are rooted in domestic or international terrorism, is our highest priority.”

“These charges are based on eight months of investigation by the FBI that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Beall. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”

The complaint alleges that since February the FBI has been investigating the defendants’ activities, including their plans to carry out a violent attack against Muslims in southwestern Kansas.  The defendants were key members of a militia group that referred to itself as the Crusaders.  A confidential source attended meetings of the group and provided the FBI with information about the defendants’ activities.

The criminal complaint alleges that the men conducted surveillance to identify potential targets, stockpiled firearms, ammunition and explosive components, and planned to issue a manifesto in conjunction with the planned bombing. The attack, the defendants said, would be intended to “wake people up.”

After considering possible targets, the defendants decided to conduct the attack on a Garden City, Kansas apartment complex that houses a mosque and a large number of members of the Somali community. They discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create a large explosion.

On Oct.12, Stein met with an undercover FBI employee in rural Finney County, Kansas.  After examining and test firing automatic weapons, Stein took the source to see the apartment building that the defendants were targeting in Garden City, Kansas. Stein said he would provide ammonium nitrate for the bomb and contribute $200 to $300 for other materials.

Stein also talked with the undercover employee about defendant Allen’s arrest in a domestic violence case in Liberal, Kansas the previous day, Oct. 11. Stein said he was concerned that Allen’s girlfriend would give the Liberal Police Department in Kansas information about the defendants’ plans.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in federal prison.

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Investigating agencies included the FBI, the Liberal Police Department, the Seward County Sheriff’s Office, the Ford County Sheriff’s Office, the Garden City Police Department, the Dodge City Police Department, the Finney County Sheriff’s Office, and Kansas Highway Patrol, and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi for the District of Kansas and Counterterrorism Section Trial Attorney David Cora are prosecuting this case.

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