An Ohio man plotted to attack the U.S. Capitol using pipe bombs and rifles, saying he wanted to conduct an attack in solidarity with the Islamic State terrorists the U.S. is fighting in the Middle East, the FBI charged in a criminal complaint Wednesday.
Christopher Cornell had saved money, researched government buildings in Washington, laid plans to travel to the capital to carry out his attack and on Wednesday bought two M-15 semiautomatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition, prompting police to move in and arrest him.
Mr. Cornell, 20, posted on a Twitter account by the name of Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, drawing the attention of an FBI informant. Over the course of several months, Mr. Cornell and the informant met and discussed their plans to carry out the attack.
At one point Mr. Cornell said he’d been in contact with others overseas and didn’t think he would get permission from them to conduct his attack, but said he wanted to move forward anyway.
“I believe that we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything,” he wrote in an instant message to the FBI’s informant, who was cooperating with authorities in order to get favorable consideration in his own criminal case.
Mr. Cornell said he’d “already got a thumbs-up” from other terrorist leaders, including Anwar al Awlaki, a U.S.-born imam who American authorities said helped plan terrorist attacks against the U.S. He was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
“Christopher Cornell specifically planned that he and [the informant] would build, plant and detonate pipe bombs at and near the U.S. Capitol, then use firearms to shoot and kill employees and officials in the U.S. Capitol,” FBI Special Agent T.A. Staderman said in a criminal complaint filed in the case.
Mr. Cornell purchased firearms Wednesday and federal authorities arrested him after, officials said.
The FBI and Homeland Security issued a memo notifying law enforcement agencies across the country of the case.
“The alleged activities of Cornell highlight the continued interest of US-based violent extremists to support designated foreign terrorist organizations overseas, such as [Islamic State], by committing terrorist acts in the United States,” it read.
“Terrorist group members and supporters will almost certainly continue to use social media platforms to disseminate English language violent extremist messages,” the memo reportedly read.
It’s the second recent arrest of an Ohio man for plotting against Congress. Earlier this month police charged another man with plotting to poison House Speaker John A. Boehner by slipping something in his drinks at his country club.