Three men were arrested Friday in Garden City, Kansas for allegedly plotting to bomb an apartment complex where many Somali immigrants live and worship.
“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.”
Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, both 49, and Patrick Eugene Stein, 47, were key members of a militia group that called itself the Crusaders. The FBI had been investigating their activities since February, aided by a confidential source who attended the meetings.
The criminal complaint describes how the confidential source drove Stein around the Garden City area as he conducted surveillance on potential targets, including a mall and mosque located in an apartment complex. He frequently referred to Somalis as “cockroaches” and women dressed in traditional garb “fucking raghead bitches.” At the time, Stein “had with him a pistol, an assault rifle with several magazines, a ballistic vest, and a night vision scope.”
On group calls and meetings over the summer, the men discussed a wide range of potential targets, including churches, residences, city and county commission meetings, and landlords that house Muslim refugees. “The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim,” Stein said, according to the complaint.
In September, the men began looking into obtaining components for explosive devices and automatic weapons — discussing plans with an undercover FBI agent. And then this week, a woman who identified herself as Allen’s girlfriend contacted local police regarding a domestic battery incident. She showed them a room full of ammunition and subsequent searches of his car and workplace revealed several other weapons and supplies used to manufacture explosives.
In response to the charges in Kansas, coupled with threats to Islamic institutions in Michigan and New Jersey, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on federal and state law enforcement to provide increased 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,” national executive director Nihad Awad said in a statement.
This year has seen an alarming uptick in anti-Islamic and anti-refugee incidents across the U.S. and Europe. Politicians like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continue to stoke those flames, calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country and increased surveillance of U.S. mosques, and suggesting all Muslims living in the U.S. should be forced to register in a federal database.
In September, a Muslim woman visiting New York City was reportedly set on fire. A woman reportedly attacked two Muslim women and their small children taking a walk in Brooklyn. In July, a Muslim man boarding a plane in North Carolina said the flight attendant announced over the PA system, “Mohamed Ahmed, that is a very long name, seat 25-A: I will be watching you.”
And these incidents are just a sampling. Since last year’s ISIS-affiliated terrorist attacks in Paris, ThinkProgress has documented over 100 anti-Muslim incidents — threats, assaults, protests, firings, airport profiling cases, and instances of vandalism — across the country.
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