Three Kansas men were convicted Wednesday of plotting to blow up mosques and kill Muslims in the town of Garden City, where a meat-packing plant employs hundreds of Somali refugees, KSN-TV (Wichita) is reporting.
Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright, and Curtis Allen were all members of a home-grown militia group that came to be known as “The Crusaders.” That group is itself a splinter group of a larger Kansas militia known as the “Kansas Security Force.”
The men apparently modeled themselves and were allegedly inspired by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
In fact, the men even took a page out of McVeigh’s book by planning to use fertilizer and racing fuel to make the same type of bomb that McVeigh used in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. That attack left 168 people dead.
As NPR News reported last month, Garden City is part of what’s known in Kansas as the Kansas Meatpacking Triangle. There, several meatpacking plants rely largely on cheap foreign labor. Specifically, Garden City was home to several hundred immigrants from Somalia, having fled a decade of war and anarchy in the East African nation. The immigrants were almost exclusively Muslim.
That, apparently, didn’t sit well with The Crusaders.
BREAKING: Three U.S. men who plotted to bomb an apartment complex where Somali immigrants lived and worshiped in Garden City, Kansas have been convicted. The trio, portrayed as aspiring domestic terrorists, could face life in prison. https://t.co/1G6bqOXB6O
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) April 18, 2018
The day after the 2016 presidential election, the Wichita men began plotting to attack the Muslim community in the town 200 miles away from them, calling them “cockroaches.” In profanity-laced recordings secretly recorded by an informant, the men plotted to bomb mosques where the Muslims worshiped and apartment buildings where they lived. The men had hoped that their actions would “wake people up” and inspire others to commit similar crimes.
One fellow militia member became alarmed at the men’s plans for violence and agreed to wear a wire. He caught his colleagues attempting to recruit other Kansas militia members into their plot.
At one point, one of the men, Patrick Stein, procured 300 pounds of fertilizer and delivered it to an undercover FBI agent.
During the men’s trials, their defense attorneys argued that all they did was talk and that their words were protected free speech. Prosecutors disagreed, however, pointing out that the men had made and tested homemade explosives.
All three men were convicted of one count each of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and one count each of conspiracy against civil rights. Further, Gavin Wright was convicted of one count of lying to the FBI. All three men are scheduled to be sentenced June 27.
Meanwhile, the Muslim immigrants who worked the meatpacking plant in Garden City have abandoned the town, fearing for their lives after the bomb plot first became public.