Three militia members plotted to bomb a Kansas mosque and apartment complex housing Somali immigrants to kill as many Muslims as possible, a federal prosecutor said on Thursday.
In her opening statement at their trial, Risa Berkower told jurors that the three men described the Somalis as ‘cockroaches’ and planned to carry out an attack in the meatpacking town of Garden City, Kansas, about 220 miles west of Wichita, until a fourth man revealed their plot to the FBI and authorities arrested them.
Patrick Stein, 47, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen, both 49, have pleaded not guilty to several charges, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
They were part of a group that prosecutors say came to be known as ‘the Crusaders’.
In a business in the southwestern city of Liberal that sold mobile homes, the four men took precautions to avoid getting caught, putting their cellphones in a separate room and locking the door to prevent anyone from walking in on them.
Authorities say that on the day after Election Day last year, they hoped to detonate four car bombs outside of a mosque and an apartment complex that was home to Somali refugees who had settled in the meatpacking town of Garden City, which is about 60 miles south of Liberal along the Oklahoma border.
Three of them didn’t know that the fourth was wearing a wire as part of a federal investigation that would thwart their alleged plot.
A militia member tipped off federal authorities after becoming alarmed by the escalating talk of violence, prosecutors have said. The man later agreed to wear a wire as a paid informant.
The government’s case features months of profanity-laced recordings in which militia members discussed plans.
‘The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim,’ Stein allegedly is heard saying during a recorded conversation.
Authorities say they hoped to detonate four car bombs outside of a mosque and an apartment complex that was home to Somali refugees who had settled in the town of Garden City
‘If you’re a Muslim, I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head.’
According to prosecutors, Stein was recorded discussing the type of fuel and fertilizer bomb that Timothy McVeigh used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people. Stein was arrested when he delivered 300 pounds of fertilizer to undercover FBI agents to make explosives.
Stein, who prosecutors say was the militia’s leader, also faces an additional weapons-related charge, and Wright faces a charge of lying to the FBI.
Attorneys for the three men are expected to make their opening statements later Thursday.
During jury selection, attorneys for the men asked a federal judge to ensure that the panel include individuals who ‘overwhelmingly’ voted for president Donald Trump, according to the Washington Post.
Their extremist militia group is staunchly anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-government.
Official documents filed last week show attorneys for the men claim the court is discriminating against their clients.
‘A political difference between the two parties also extends to their respective ideologies regarding the appropriate size and power of the federal government and the individual rights of its citizens,’ they wrote.
‘This case is uniquely political because much of the anticipated evidence will center on, and was in reaction to, the 2016 Presidential election.’
‘Additionally, this case will require the jury to evaluate and weigh evidence regarding whether the alleged conduct constitutes the crimes charged or whether it was constitutionality protected speech, assembly and petition, and/or the right to bear arms.’