The FBI announced Monday that it arrested two suspects who allegedly conspired to attack Baltimore, Maryland’s power grid in what the bureau believes was a “racially motivated” plot. One of the two suspects, unsurprisingly, has ties to an international neo-Nazi group.
According to ABC News, Brandon Russell, of Orlando, Florida, and Sarah Clendaniel, of Catonsville, Maryland, are accused of conspiring to attack multiple energy facilities in Baltimore, a city that is predominantly Black. The two “conspired to inflict maximum harm” on the city’s power grid with the aim to “completely destroy” it, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Erek Barron and Thomas Sobocinski, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office.
“Their actions threatened the electricity and heat of our homes, hospitals and businesses,” Sobocinski said during a press conference. “The FBI believes this was a real threat.”
Russell is quoted in court documents saying that attacking power transformers is “the greatest thing somebody can do.” He is accused of providing instructions and location information for the substations he and Clendaniel allegedly sought to target as part of their plot, federal prosecutors said.
Clendaniel allegedly told an FBI confidential source she was “determined” to carry out the attacks aimed at Baltimore’s infrastructure, saying, “It would lay this city to waste.”
Sobocinski said the two suspects “had extremist views” and believed that by conducting the attacks, they would bring further light to their views.
Russel is reportedly the founder of Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group created by members of Iron March, which the Anti-Defamation League describes as “a now-defunct white supremacist discussion forum.” According to CNN, this was at least the second time Russel has been accused of threatening public energy facilities. In fact, in 2017, Florida authorities conducted an investigation into the murder of two of Russell’s roommates by another roommate. During that investigation, it was revealed that Russel had conspired with his roommates to attack multiple energy stations in Florida.
So, maybe it’s about time we start taking white supremacist domestic terrorism seriously.
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