3 men ac­cused of plot­ting to bomb Mus­lims in Kansas

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Three mem­bers of a Kansas mili­tia group are ac­cused of plot­ting to bomb an apart­ment com­plex that’s home to So­mali im­mi­grants in the western Kansas meat­pack­ing town of Gar­den City, a thwarted at­tack prose­cu­tors say was planned for the day af­ter the Novem­ber elec­tion. A com­plaint un­sealed Fri­day charges Cur­tis Wayne Allen, 49; Pa­trick Eu­gene Stein, 47; and Gavin Wayne Wright, 49, with con­spir­ing to use a weapon of mass de­struc­tion. The men are mem­bers of a small mili­tia group that calls it­self “the Cru­saders”, and whose mem­bers es­pouse sov­er­eign ci­ti­zen, anti-govern­ment, an­tiMus­lim and anti-im­mi­grant ex­trem­ist be­liefs, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

Prose­cu­tors said the men don’t yet have at­tor­neys. Pub­licly listed phone num­bers for the men couldn’t im­me­di­ately be found. Their first court ap­pear­ance is to­mor­row. The ar­rests were the cul­mi­na­tion of an eight-month FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion that took agents “deep into a hid­den cul­ture of ha­tred and vi­o­lence,” Act­ing US At­tor­ney Tom Beall said. The com­plaint al­leges group mem­bers chose the tar­get based on their ha­tred for Mus­lims, peo­ple of So­mali de­scent and im­mi­grants - and out of a de­sire to in­spire other mili­tia groups and “wake peo­ple up”.

The FBI be­gan a do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the group in Fe­bru­ary, and a con­fi­den­tial source at­tended its meet­ings in south­west­ern Kansas. In a June meet­ing, Stein brought up the Or­lando night­club shoot­ing and pro­posed car­ry­ing out a sim­i­lar at­tack against Mus­lim refugees in Gar­den City, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint. They ul­ti­mately de­cided to tar­get the apart­ment com­plex be­cause of the num­ber of So­ma­lis who lived there and the fact that one of the apart­ments was used as a mosque. The com­plex houses about 120 So­mali res­i­dents, Beall said.

The com­plaint said Stein dis­cussed the ex­plo­sives used in the 1995 bomb­ing of the fed­eral build­ing in Ok­la­homa City by Ti­mothy McVeigh. The men, who were ar­rested in Lib­eral on Fri­day morn­ing, per­formed sur­veil­lance of the apart­ment build­ing and pre­pared a man­i­festo, Beall said.

In a pro­fan­ity-laced con­fer­ence call that law en­force­ment mon­i­tored, Stein said the only way “this coun­try’s ever go­ing to get turned around is it will be a blood­bath”, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint. If con­victed, the men could be sen­tenced to up to life in fed­eral prison with­out pa­role.

Heidi Beirich, di­rec­tor of the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter’s In­tel­li­gence Project, called the de­tails of the plot dis­turb­ing, say­ing it “should serve as a warning to those who traf­fic in the pol­i­tics of fear and big­otry”. Gar­den City is home to a Tyson Foods beef slaugh­ter­house that has drawn a di­verse im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion to the area. Dr John Birky, who’s help­ing to cre­ate a clinic and work­ing with refugees on a lan­guage pro­gram, said some lo­cal res­i­dents fear the refugees, mis­tak­enly as­so­ci­at­ing them with mil­i­tants in So­ma­lia. “Peo­ple do ex­press more of a gen­eral sen­ti­ment of, ‘Why are we let­ting these refugees in here? Why are we? They’re tak­ing our jobs, plus they’re Mus­lim,’” he said.

Gar­den City Mayor Chris Law said in a state­ment that he was shocked by the planned at­tack, and Birky called it “crazy”. Birky said be­tween 300 and 500 So­mali refugees live in the area. The state Depart­ment for Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies said that of the 906 refugees who ar­rived in Kansas from Oct 2014 through Jan 2016, 68 were from So­ma­lia, or 7.5 per­cent. Birky said most are flee­ing mil­i­tants in So­ma­lia and want to as­sim­i­late once they reach Kansas. “They’re try­ing to make a bet­ter life for their fam­i­lies here,” he said. “They want to pur­sue the Amer­i­can dream.”

The case is the lat­est in­volv­ing mili­tia groups in the state. Ear­lier this year, a planned armed protest out­side a Wi­chita mosque prompted the Is­lamic So­ci­ety of Wi­chita to can­cel an ap­pear­ance by a speaker whom pro­test­ers be­lieved sup­ported ter­ror­ism. The Jus­tice Depart­ment’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Di­vi­sion cre­ated a new po­si­tion a year ago to help co­or­di­nate in­ves­ti­ga­tions into vi­o­lent home­grown ex­trem­ism.

Pa­trick Eu­gene Stein

Gavin Wright

Cur­tis Allen

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