Three men who were part of a militia group that referred to themselves as the “Crusaders” were convicted today of planning to bomb a neighborhood of Somali immigrants to “wake people up” the day after the election.
After a four-week trial, a federal jury convicted Patrick Eugene Stein, 49, of Wright, Kansas, Curtis Allen, 50, of Liberal, Kansas, and Gavin Wright, 49, of Beaver County, Okla., on one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy to violate the housing rights of their intended victims. Wright was also convicted of lying to the FBI.
The three face a maximum sentence of life in prison at their June 27 hearing.
Wright owned the G & G Modular Home Center in Liberal, and Allen was one of his employees. Stein was a leader of the militia.
According to the unsealed criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, the FBI had been investigating the southwestern Kansas militia group since February 2016. “This is a militia group whose members support and espouse sovereign citizen, anti-government, anti-Muslim, and antiimmigrant extremist beliefs,” said the affidavit, who “have been regularly meeting and planning to carry out a violent attack against Muslims in their community and have taken steps in furtherance of accomplishing this, including identifying a target location.”
The FBI investigation was sparked by a “reliable, paid” confidential informant within the Crusaders militia, who covertly recorded meetings. The group was also monitored through social media and other open sources.
The complaint said the three men charged were conspiring “to carry out a domestic terrorist attack by using an improvised explosive device (IED) to destroy an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, which contains a mosque and is home to many Muslims,” referred to as “cockroaches” by the group. “They have routinely expressed a hatred for Muslims, individuals of Somali descent, and immigrants. They chose the target location based on their hatred of these groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up.’”
Stein, the affidavit continued, conducted surveillance on a mall frequented by Somalis, a mosque that was located within an apartment complex, and vehicles believed to belong to Somalis or other Muslims. On one of these expeditions the informant was driving Stein when he at “various times yelled at Somali women dressed in traditional garb, calling them ‘fucking raghead bitches.'”
Stein allegedly went on these surveillance trips with a pistol, an assault rifle with several magazines, a ballistic vest, and a night vision scope. In a recorded conference call of the group in April 2016, Stein reportedly said, “Make sure if you start using your bow on them cockroaches, make sure you dip them in pig’s blood before you shoot them.”
In May 2016, stated the criminal complaint, Stein said “he wanted to get a .22, go over to Garden City, Kansas, start kicking in the doors of the Somali apartments, and kill them one by one. He wanted to use a .22 because it was quieter and he also mentioned he wanted to buy or make a silencer.”
After the Orlando nightclub shooting in June 2016, the militia group met in a field — to avoid FBI surveillance, though the informant was in on the meeting — and Stein “proposed carrying out an attack similar to the Orlando shooting against a Muslim refugee location in Garden City.” In a recorded June 2016 conference call, Stein allegedly said, “The only fucking way this country’s ever going to get turned around is it will be a bloodbath and it will be a nasty, messy motherfucker.” He also allegedly suggested that a local church helping refugees be “burnt to the ground.”
In July 2016, the complaint continues, Stein, Allen and Wright met at Wright’s mobile home business “and discussed a wide range of potential targets, including Muslim-occupied apartment complexes, residences, and places of worship, city/county commission meetings, local public officials, landlords who rent property to Muslim refugees, and organizations providing assistance to Muslim refugees… the group brainstormed various methods of attack, including murder, kidnapping, rape, and arson.”
Stein was recorded by the informant at the meeting saying, “When we go on operations there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a 1-year old, I’m serious. I guarantee if I go on a mission those little fuckers are going bye-bye.”
The group decided in August 2016 that they would plan an attack against the apartment complex with the mosque, the affidavit said. “They decided that they would obtain four vehicles, fill them with explosives, and park them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create a big explosion.” They planned construction of the explosive devices to be detonated via cell phone, and “the group researched mosque prayer times online to determine when the most people would be around.” Allen “decided he would work on the group’s manifesto to release in conjunction with the attack.”
The informant hooked up the accused with an undercover FBI agent posing as a person who could get the group weapons and materials for the IEDs.
In October 2016, Stein met up with the undercover agent and his colleagues at at a rural location in Finney County, Kansas. The complaint says Stein agreed to show the undercover agent his chosen target, and “discussed trading drugs for explosives.”
Allen had been arrested the day before after a domestic violence call from his girlfriend. Stein told the undercover FBI agent that the girlfriend could have been ratting out the plan to law enforcement and that she “needs to disappear.” The girlfriend had showed responding officers “a large amount of ammunition, brass casings, components and tools for use in the manufacture of ammunition and firearms” in their home.
When Allen was later stopped on Highway 83, police reportedly found “a large amount of ammunition, multiple AR-15 magazines, an AK47 magazine, and a Glock handgun magazine, all loaded with ammunition” and “a tool used to create baffles for firearm silencers or suppressors.” Officers seized “close to a metric ton of ammunition” from Allen’s residence.
Allen’s girlfriend later told the FBI that she saw “a white powdery substance being produced on the counter” at Wright’s mobile home business, as well as “glassware and a long glass stirring stick being used to manufacture the explosives,” “hydrogen peroxide, fuel tablets and cheesecloth being used for the manufacture of explosives,” and “the substance being cooled in an ice bath.” The substance was believed to be Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine, which has been used in other attacks including the 7/7 London tube bombings.
“The Department of Justice is resolute every day in fighting terrorist threats to the United States, both foreign and domestic,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said today. “The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin. That’s not just illegal — it’s immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it.”
“Today’s verdict is a significant victory against domestic terrorism and hate crimes, and I want to thank everyone who helped bring the defendants to justice — the dedicated professionals with our National Security and Civil Rights Divisions, our United States Attorney’s office in Kansas, the FBI, and our state and local partners,” Sessions added. “Law enforcement saved lives in this case.”