Three southwest Kansas men were charged Wednesday in a Wichita federal court with plotting to blow up an apartment complex in Garden City where Muslim immigrants from Somalia live and worship.
Federal prosecutors say the men conducted surveillance on potential targets and stockpiled guns, ammunition and explosives. They also wrote a manifesto, which they intended to 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,” said acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall. “Many Kansans may find it as startling as I do that such things could happen here.”
Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright – both 49-year-old Liberal, Kan., residents – and 47-year-old Patrick Eugene Stein, of Wright, Kan., were charged with one count each of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. Wright is the owner of G & H Mobile Home Center in Liberal.
According to a news release sent by Beall’s office, the FBI has been investigating the defendants’ activities since February. The investigation revealed that the men were planning a violent attack against Muslims in southwestern Kansas. A confidential source working with the FBI attended meetings of a militia group called the Kansas Security Force and provided the agency with information about the militia’s plans.
The defendants were members of a small group they called the Crusaders.
Beall states the Crusaders considered several targets, including pro-Somali churches and public officials. They ultimately decided to attack the apartment complex. The building was home to several Somalis and one of the apartments was used as a mosque. Their plot involved filling four vehicles with explosives and parking them around the apartment complex in order to create a massive explosion.
Stein on October 12 met with the informant in rural Finney County to examine automatic weapons brought from an FBI lab in Quantico, Va. After trying out two of the weapons, Stein tried out two of the guns and then took the informant to see the apartment building they intended to blow up. Stein said he would provide ammonium nitrate for the bomb and would pay around $300 for other materials.
Investigators learned that one day prior to the meeting with the informant, Allen was arrested for domestic violence. Stein expressed concern that Allen’s girlfriend would tell authorities about the planned attack.
If convicted, all three defendants face up to life in federal prison.
Investigating agencies included the FBI, the Liberal Police Department, the Seward County Sheriff’s Office, the Ford County Sheriff’s Office, the Garden City Police Department, the Dodge City Police Department, the Finney County Sheriff’s Office, Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.
No court date has been set at this time.