Somali immigrants targeted in Garden City bomb plot

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas said Friday three men in Garden CIty, Kan. planned to blow up an apartment complex where immigrants from Somali were living.  About 120 people live in the apartment complex.

Gavin Wright (Courtesy Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office)
Gavin Wright (Courtesy Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office)

Tom Beall said the three men, identified as 49-year-old Curtis Allen and 49-year-old Gavin Wright of Liberal, and 47-year-old Patrick Stein of Rice, Kan., belong to a group calling itself the Crusaders.  A criminal complaint unsealed today alleged the men conducted surveillance to size up potential targets, stockpiled firearms, ammunition and explosive components, and prepared a manifesto to be published after the bombing. The attack, the defendants said, would “wake people up.”

“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,” Beall said. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”

They are suspected of conducting surveillance and stockpiling weapons and explosives in order to set off an explosion to “wake people up.” The group had prepared a manifesto, Beall said.

The three are charged with one count of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Curtis Allen (Courtesy Sedgwick CountY Sheriff's Office)
Curtis Allen (Courtesy Sedgwick CountY Sheriff’s Office)

The federal complaint against them alleges that since February 2016 the FBI has been investigating the defendants’ activities planning a violent attack against Muslims in southwestern Kansas. A confidential source attended meetings of a militia group called the Kansas Security Force, providing the FBI with information about the groups’ activities.

Beall said the defendants were members of a small group they called the Crusaders. After considering possible targets including pro-Somali churches and public officials, the defendants decided to target an apartment complex in Garden City, Kan., where Somalis lived and maintain an apartment that served as a mosque. They discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create a big explosion.

On Oct. 12, defendant Stein met with the confidential FBI source in rural Finney County to examine automatic weapons the source had brought from an FBI lab in Quantico, Va. After trying out two of the weapons, Stein took the source to see the apartment building the defendants were targeting in Garden City. Stein said he would provide ammonium nitrate for the bomb and contribute $200 to $300 for other materials.

Patrick Stein (Courtesy Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office)
Patrick Stein (Courtesy Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office)

Beall said Stein also talked with the source about defendant Allen’s arrest in a domestic violence case in Liberal the previous day, Oct. 11. Stein said he was concerned that Allen’s girlfriend would give Liberal police information about the defendants’ plans.

If convicted, the defendants face up to life in federal prison.

Beall said they planned to blow up four vehicles at the apartment complex.  About 120 people lived in the apartment complex, Beall said.

The investigation into the plot lasted eight months.  Beall said the Crusaders is an isolated group who represented a “hidden culture of hatred and violence.”

Earlier in the week, Liberal Police Chief Al Sill told KSN earlier the investigation was focused around various locations in Liberal and in other places.  Those agencies involved in the investigation included the Liberal Police Department, the Seward County Sheriff’s Office, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

On Wednesday, Sill said a portion of East Tucker Road was blocked within the city limits for several hours.

Garden City Police Chief Mike Utz said the plot was broader than just one to attack individuals.

“It was very disturbing. This was not an attack on a certain group of individuals in our community. This was an attack on our community. We have a very diverse community and we have an excellent community.”

Garden City Mayor Chris Law issued the following statement:

“Our community is forever grateful for the protection provided to us every day, but especially today in learning of the thwarted attack on our community. I’m shocked, but at the same time extremely proud of and grateful for the efforts of local, state, and federal law enforcement. Today should also serve as a reminder that vigilance should be a common practice by all citizens. ‘See something, say something’ is a cause we should champion each day even in a rural community like Garden City. I would encourage anyone that sees something suspicious to call 911.” – Mayor Chris Law

Garden City Police Chief Mike Utz issued a statement as well.

“The GCPD was aware of the investigation, and has cooperated with the FBI since the onset. We have been assured that all individuals involved are in custody, and that the safety of the community was ensured throughout the investigation. All inquiries about the investigation, arrest, and prosecution are referred to the US Attorney’s Office and the FBI.” – Police Chief Michael Utz

Views the federal complaint against the three men by clicking on the image below.

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Click on this image to enlarge it.