Three Kansas men found guilty of bomb plot targeting Somali Muslim immigrants

  • Three Kansas men found guilty of bomb plot targeting Somali Muslim immigrants

Three Kansas men found guilty of bomb plot targeting Somali Muslim immigrants

Three men were found guilty of plotting to bomb an apartment complex that was home to primarily Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas, NPR reports.

Just a day after beginning deliberations, a federal jury found Curtis Allen, 50; Gavin Wright, 49; and Patrick Eugene Stein, 49, each guilty of one count of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction as well as one count of violating the housing rights of their would-be victims.

In closing arguments on Tuesday, prosecutors said the three men, all of whom are white, were out to kill as numerous residents as possible and send the message to the Somali immigrants that they were not welcome in the United States.

"They wanted to send a message to the people living there that they're not welcome in Garden City, they're not welcome in southwest Kansas, they're not welcome in the United States", Mr. Mattivi said.

About 120 Somali immigrants live there, as many have been drawn to the city because of jobs in the meatpacking industry, reported CNN affiliate KSNW. The testimony and recordings indicate the men tried to recruit other members of the Kansas Security Force to join them. The three belonged to a militia called the Crusaders.

As the plan moved forward, the three men talked about parking four vehicles filled with explosives at the four corners the apartment complex "to create an explosion that would be sure to level the building and kill its occupants", according to a Department of Justice news release. The complex that they targeted also included a mosque.

During the men's trials, their defense attorneys argued that all they did was talk and that their words were protected free speech. It also argued the defendants were their exercising freedom of speech and never meant to act on the attack.

The FBI arrested Stein when he delivered 300 lbs of fertilizer, which he planned to use to make explosives, to undercover FBI agents.

"The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin".

"It is not morally right to hold such hate, but it is not legally wrong", said James Pratt, a lawyer for Mr. Stein, who acknowledged that his client referred to Muslims as "cockroaches".

Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry for Muslim Advocates, said they were glad to learn of the convictions. One of the men who was approached told the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the plan.

"Anti-Muslim rhetoric has led to an unprecedented spike in hate violence and mosque attacks, intense radicalization of white supremacists, and a shocking disregard for the lives of American Muslims".

The men were arrested in 2016 just weeks before prosecutors say they had hoped to carry out mass murder at the apartment complex the day after US voters elected the next president.