- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2016

Authorities have charged three Kansas militia members with planning to bomb an apartment complex that is home to about 120 Somali immigrants, saying the men sought to target Muslims as part of an attack to “wake people up.”

The three men were said to be members of a local sovereign citizens group, the Crusaders, and planned to time the attack on the Garden City community for the day after the general election next month so it wouldn’t affect the outcome, said Tom Beall, U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas.

Curtis Wayne Allen, 49; Gavin Wayne Wright, 49; and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, are each charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, a charge that is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.

“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,” Mr. Beall said Friday. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”

In announcing the charges, prosecutors said the men sought to target Muslims in southwestern Kansas and conducted surveillance for months on various businesses, homes and community centers that Somalis frequent.

The men, who prosecutors said regularly referred to Muslims as “cockroaches,” eventually settled on a plan to fill four vehicles with explosives and detonate them outside the Garden City apartment complex where dozens of Somali immigrants live.

The area has a sizable Somali population. Many of the immigrants work in a Tyson Foods processing plant.

According to an affidavit to affix a GPS tracker to Mr. Stein’s pickup truck, investigators had been conducting a domestic terrorism investigation of another militia group, the Kansas Security Force, and the men were members of both groups.

A confidential informant who infiltrated the group provided much of the information about the men’s plans, but authorities also tracked their phones and the truck.

“If you’re a Muslim, I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head,” Mr. Stein said during one meeting, according to the affidavit. “When we go on operations, there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a 1-year-old. I’m serious.”

Authorities said Mr. Stein met with the confidential informant last week to examine and test automatic weapons. He later took the informant to the targeted apartment and said he intended to provide the bomb-making ingredient ammonium nitrate.

“These individuals had desire, the means, and the capabilities and were committed to carrying out this act of domestic terrorism,” said Eric Jackson, FBI special agent in charge of the Kansas City field office.

Law enforcement sought Saturday to reassure immigrants in the diverse western Kansas community. Hundreds of Somalis, Malaysians, Burmese and others gathered around FBI agents and law enforcement officers for a briefing early Saturday, The Wichita Eagle reported.

“The only answer I can give you about why this happened is that they wanted to attack your religious beliefs,” Police Chief Michael Utz said. “But you need to know that whether you are an immigrant or not, you are all Garden Citians.”

“Some of you have said you can’t go to your mosque to pray or that you can’t go to your homes because you are afraid,” Chief Utz said. “But we and the sheriff and the FBI are here to say that you are safe in Garden City and safe in the United States of America.”

Dalma Ali Warsame, a 34-year-old Somali, said Somalia had no government “and no safety,” which was why he came to the U.S. Now he has a wife and two daughters, ages 1 and 3, who are frightened.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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