Three Kansas men were accused of plotting a bomb attack targeting an apartment complex that is home to a mosque and many Muslim immigrants from Somalia, authorities said Friday.
Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein face federal charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, the Justice Department announced Friday.
“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,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a statement. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”
According to the complaint, the investigation was prompted by a paid confidential informant who attended meetings with a group of people calling themselves “the Crusaders” and heard discussions of plans to attack Muslims, whom they called “cockroaches.”
The three men charged Friday were identified as the architects of the attack plan, the FBI complaint said, through a combination of recordings, social-media posts and reporting from the confidential informant.
The group routinely expressed hatred for Muslims, Somalis and immigrants. In one call, Stein is alleged to have said that the country could be turned around only with “a bloodbath.” The individuals said they wanted to “wake people up” and inspire other militia groups to act.
The FBI said that as part of this plot, the men conducted surveillance in Garden City, Kansas, a small city about 200 miles west of Wichita, and other places in southwest Kansas.
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At one point, Stein was being driven around by the confidential informant, who told the FBI that Stein shouted at Somali women in traditional garb and cursed at them.
During this surveillance, Stein was armed with an assault rifle, extra magazines, a pistol, a ballistic vest and a night-vision scope, the complaint said.
The three men had been plotting since February “to use a weapon of mass destruction,” according to an FBI complaint made public Friday.
In June, Stein is alleged to have met with members of the Crusaders and brought up the Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooting, which was carried out by a Florida man who pledged loyalty to the Islamic State during the attack.
The FBI said its informant met in July with the three men charged Friday at a business owned by Wright and where Allen worked. They discussed potential targets, at one point marking them on Google Maps, and “brainstormed various methods of attack, including murder, kidnapping, rape, and arson,” the FBI said.
“We’re going to talk about killing people and going to prison for life,” Allen said at one point, according to the complaint. “Less than sixty days, maybe forty days until something major happens. We need to be preemptive before something happens.”
“The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim,” Stein responded, according to the documents.
At another point in the conversation, Stein allegedly remarked: “If you’re a Muslim I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head,” before telling the group that “when we go on operations there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a 1-year-old, I’m serious.”
Allen and Wright are both 49 years old, and Stein is 47. No attorneys were listed for the three men Friday evening.
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Their next court appearance is scheduled for Monday morning in Wichita. If convicted, they face life in prison.
On Friday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for officials in law enforcement to offer “stepped-up protection for mosques and other Islamic institutions.”
“We ask our nation’s political leaders, and particularly political candidates, to reject the growing Islamophobia in our nation,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a news release.