Albuquerque Journal

Neo-Nazi leader, girlfriend accused of targeting power stations


BALTIMORE - A neo-Nazi leader recently released from prison is accused of plotting an attack on the Maryland power grid with a woman he met while incarcerat­ed.

The charges against Brandon Russell, 27, and Sarah Clendaniel, 34, come amid a spate of sabotage targeting power stations across the country. Gunfire at two North Carolina substation­s in December left 45,000 people without power for several days. Most of the cases remain unsolved, but authoritie­s and experts say they follow increased interest among white supremacis­ts in targeting electric infrastruc­ture.

“If we can pull off what I’m hoping . . . this would be legendary,” Clendaniel said on Jan. 29, according to the court record. She was speaking to a federal informant, who was having similar discussion­s with Russell.

The two appeared in court Monday in Baltimore and Florida federal courts on a charge of conspiring to destroy an energy facility, which carries up to 20 years in prison.

According to prosecutor­s, their plan was to attack with gunfire five substation­s that serve the Baltimore area. In conversati­ons about the plot, according to court documents, Clendaniel “described how there was a ‘ring’ around Baltimore and if they hit a number of them all in the same day, they ‘would completely destroy this whole city.’”

At a news conference Monday morning, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron thanked federal, state and local law enforcemen­t partners for stopping the plot.

“Together, we are using every legal means necessary to keep Marylander­s safe and to disrupt hate-fueled violence,” Barron said. “When we are united, hate cannot win.”

Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI field office in Baltimore said Clendaniel and Russell conspired to inflict “maximum harm” to the power grid.

“The accused were not just talking, but taking steps to fulfill their threats and further their extremist goals,” Sobocinski said.

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