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Friday 15 December 2017

Man accused of plotting to bomb Somalis planned 'cataclysmic' attack

Patrick Stein is one of three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment building filled with Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas (Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office/AP)
Patrick Stein is one of three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment building filled with Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas (Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office/AP)

Three men accused of plotting to bomb Somali immigrants living in western Kansas were preparing to defend themselves in the event of "massive social upheaval" as they accumulated firearms and ammunition, a lawyer has said.

The arguments were the first glimpse into the unfolding defence strategy for three men who prosecutors say were plotting to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live in the meatpacking town of Garden City.

They came during a detention hearing for Patrick Stein, who pleaded not guilty to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.

During the hearing, assistant US attorney Anthony Mattivi accused Stein of preparing for "a substantial cataclysmic attack".

Prosecutors say Stein was the leader of a militia group called The Crusaders, but his lawyer, Ed Robinson, denies his client even knew of such a group.

Mr Robinson also said the ammonia nitrate that the government claims was to be used to make bombs was really for farming.

US magistrate Judge Gwynne Birzer remanded Stein in custody until his trial, citing the "sense of hate" exhibited in prosecutors' evidence and noting "the grave danger you pose to the community if you are released".

Prosecutors say Stein, 47, Gavin Wright, 51, and Curtis Allen, 49, planned to attack the apartment complex, which contained a mosque in one of the units, the day after the November 8 US presidential election.

Wright waived his detention hearing on Friday and pleaded not guilty. Allen's hearing is on Monday.

In text messages with an undercover FBI agent, Stein, using the screen name Orkin Man, referred to Somali immigrants as "cockroaches" and expressed his belief that the government - from the president down through his cabinet and "even getting down to the local government" - was run by a terrorist organisation, Mr Mattivi said.

"It's at a point it has to be stopped or there is no stopping it," Stein allegedly said.

Mr Robinson said the men wanted to be prepared to defend themselves and were not planning a pre-emptive aggressive strike.

"He proposed a plan to be put together to deal with that mosque and those people in the event a revolution occurred," Mr Robinson said.

He also criticised prosecutors for "inundating" the public, the media and Stein's family with the allegations.

"Mr Stein is not a member of any group called The Crusaders and he doesn't even know what that name means," Mr Robinson said.

According to the texts prosecutors presented, Stein allegedly said the group had hoped attack on Septemebr 11, but was not ready.

Instead, Stein told the undercover agent, the group decided to wait until after the election, thinking that an attack could give ammunition to supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"We cannot let Hillary back into the White House," Stein allegedly said. "If she was to be elected, it would be very soon after the election, 'game on'."

Stein rocked back and forth in his chair as Mr Mattivi read the texts and talked about aerial maps of the targets found in his vehicle, at times whispering to his lawyer.

The bombing of the Somali apartment complex was the first of many attacks planned, prosecutors said. Stein said he did not expect to live past January, Mr Mattivi said, and wrote that he wanted to take out as many people as possible before he died.

Investigators searching the men's homes, vehicles and a storage unit seized instructions explaining how to make explosives along with other bomb-making materials.

Mr Robinson said the defendants kept "getting led along by the (government's) paid informant and undercover agent".

But prosecutors pointed to Stein's words saying that the men only needed to a few things to wrap up before the attack.

"He was making preparations for a substantial cataclysmic attack," Mr Mattivi said.


Press Association

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