Extremist group – On Monday, two people were accused of planning to attack the electrical system of Baltimore, Maryland.
According to court documents filed by federal investigators, a neo-Nazi leader intended to attack electrical substations with a lady he was seeing.
To utterly destroy Baltimore, they targeted the nearby factories.
Sarah Beth Clendaniel and Brandon Clint Russell were charged by the Justice Department for planning to damage the electrical grid.
Allegations claim that radical ideologies backed the plot against Maryland based on race or ethnicity.
Tom Sobocisnki, the head of the FBI field office in Baltimore, alleges that the two intended to “inflict maximum harm on the power grid.”
“The accused were not just talking, but taking steps to fulfill their threats and further their extremist goals,” said Sobocisnki.
The charges come after warnings from domestic experts that extremist groups are becoming more aggressive, trying to target power plants.
Extremist groups attacking
In the second half of 2022, two rounds were fired at a power substation in Moore County, North Carolina.
45,000 households and businesses lost energy as a result of the attack.
According to experts, domestic extremist groups may already be planning other attacks of this kind.
It comes after an unspecified FBI warning from November that warned that extremist organizations constituted a threat to cause societal unrest and call for further violence.
“This typically primitive style attack equals millions of dollars in damage,” said former US Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Brian Harrell.
“If you were to shoot some very key components, you can quickly create an effect where this large multimillion transformer becomes essentially a paperweight.”
The Department of Energy reports that there were 25 violent attacks on US power plants last year.
80 vandalism occurrences and 57 allegations of suspicious conduct were also recorded.
The numbers show a rise from 2021 incidents, with 52 instances of vandalism, 32 reports of suspicious conduct, six violent attacks, and two sabotage complaints.
The majority of the reports most likely come from extremist group members.
District Court Judge Richard Collins met Sarah Beth Clendaniel for the first time on Monday afternoon in Baltimore’s downtown.
As she reviewed the accusations made against her in order to get ready for the hearing, she shook her head.
Clendaniel’s court-appointed counsel, Kirstin Hopkins, complied with the government’s request to keep the defendant incarcerated while additional hearings are scheduled.
In a later court appearance, she’ll probably enter a plea.
Her case will also have a preliminary hearing on February 15.
The first court appearance for Brandon Clint Russell was scheduled on Monday in Orlando.
There is, however, no current information on his hearing.
During conversations that were recorded in January, Clendaniel is accused of telling FBI informants that the facilities were the target of a plot to attack the whole city.
She and Russell reportedly gave the source the facility information, according to the charging papers.
The informant added that Brandon Clint Russell also reportedly sent them a YouTube video of the attack on the North Carolina substation.
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Additionally, he is said to have founded a neo-Nazi group in his community.
Authorities assert that he and his roommates plotted a similar assault in Florida before deciding to target the electrical infrastructure in Maryland.
Evidence of the alleged plot was discovered when a roommate inquired into the 2017 killings of two of his roommates.
At the news briefing on Monday, officials revealed that Russell and Clendaniel had both offline and online relationships.
Since June 2022, Russell has spoken with the FBI insider using the pseudonym “Homunculus,” according to the Justice Department.
He is believed to have repeatedly discussed launching an attack on vital infrastructure with the source during the next months.
Homunculus and the source briefly discussed Mylar balloons.
He purportedly mentioned more potential electrical substation assaults and stated that piercing transformers with a punch is “the greatest thing somebody can do.”
Sarah Beth Clendaniel allegedly identified herself to the FBI source in January as “Nythra88” and “Kali1889.”
According to the criminal documents, she reportedly told the source that she wanted to do something important before succumbing to a fatal illness.
She requested help getting weapons.
They were informed by Homunculus and Clendaniel on their plans to attack power plants, the insider said.
The prosecution asserts that the source captured a voice chat on January 24 that lasted for more than two hours.
Five days later, Clendaniel informed the informant that they would target the facilities close to Baltimore.
The court documents revealed that the two members of the extremist group had been in touch since at least 2018, when they were both detained in separate prisons.
Russell received a 60-month sentence in January 2018 after admitting to carrying an unregistered device and unlawfully storing explosive materials.
His roommate and their other two roommates were notified that he was the group’s leader at the time, according to court documents.
According to the roommate, the organization planned to attack important US infrastructure, such as a nuclear facility and electrical cables close to Alligator Alley (around Interstate 75).
According to court documents, the roommate was questioned by police after killing the other two roommates for pestering him because he had converted from neo-Nazi beliefs to Islam.
Russell was on supervised release at the time of his release in the recently publicized case.
When Clendaniel was being held in detention in 2006, his record showed a number of breaches, including an armed robbery at a convenience shop using a large butcher knife.
She was sentenced to five years in prison.
Image source: NBC News