US Racist Terror Plot, or Just Idle Talk? Kansas Trial Hinges on the Answer

23:46  16 april  2018
23:46  16 april  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

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Three members of a small militia group calling itself 'the Crusaders' have been accused of plotting to target hundreds Somali Muslim immigrants in Kansas . Prosecutors have charged Curtis Wayne Allen, 49; Patrick Eugene Stein, 47; and Gavin Wayne Wright, 49

a group of people standing in a parking lot: The exterior of the mosque in the apartment complex in Garden City, Kan., that three militia members are accused of plotting to attack. The arrests in the case left many Somalis in the city worried about their safety. © Adam Shrimplin/Reuters The exterior of the mosque in the apartment complex in Garden City, Kan., that three militia members are accused of plotting to attack. The arrests in the case left many Somalis in the city worried about their safety.

WICHITA, Kan. — The militia members talked about attacks on President Barack Obama and members of Congress, a federal agent recounted in court. They discussed burning down churches whose members helped refugees settle in western Kansas. They mulled killing landlords who rented to Muslims.

In the end, prosecutors say, the three men decided to bomb a complex of low-slung apartments on West Mary Street in Garden City, Kan., a place where Somali immigrants sleep and pray between shifts at a nearby meatpacking plant on the state’s sparsely populated southwestern plains.

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  Trial of men accused in Somali immigrant bomb plot nears end Attorneys are set to make their closing arguments to jurors deciding the fate of three men accused of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali immigrants in Kansas. Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights in the plot targeting Muslims in Garden City. Wright is also charged with lying to the FBI.

WICHITA, Kansas ― An overwhelmingly white jury will decide the fate of three white militiamen facing federal charges for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack that targeted a community of Somali Muslim refugees. African-American jurors faced questions about their ability to give three racists a fair trial

Patrick Stein, Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright (left to right) were all just full of talk , according to their lawyers. The government says the men plotted to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas , that Racists Charged In Terror Plot Against Somali Refugees Get A Nearly All White Jury.

“If you have anything to do with the sellout of this country,” warned a handwritten manifesto that prosecutors say the men composed, “your homes, your businesses, your families are at risk.” Singled out for criticism: government officials, the news media and property owners who lease to refugees or illegal immigrants.

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In a trial unfolding over the last month in a courthouse in Wichita, federal prosecutors have described how they say the men — Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein, all of whom are white and who called their group “the Crusaders” — concocted a bombing plot aimed at causing mass murder. It was prevented, the prosecutors say, because agents arrested the men a few weeks before the bombing was to take place in 2016.

Kansas militia members wanted to kill Muslims, send message: prosecutor

  Kansas militia members wanted to kill Muslims, send message: prosecutor <p>Three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment complex in western Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia lived and had a mosque, wanted to kill as many as possible and send a message they were not welcome in the United States, a federal prosecutor said at their trial on Tuesday.</p>Three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment complex in western Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia lived and had a mosque, wanted to kill as many as possible and send a message they were not welcome in the United States, a federal prosecutor said at their trial on Tuesday.

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WICHITA — The prosecution’s story goes like this: Three men in rural Kansas were so driven by racist hatred that they spent months ahead of the 2016 presidential election plotting to kill as many Muslims as possible. “ Idle chatter? Sure. Bluster? Words of hatred? Yes. Some of that locker room talk ?

The men, who could face life in prison if convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, have pleaded not guilty. They are also charged with conspiracy against rights, by planning to interfere with the apartment residents’ housing rights because of their race, national origin and religion. The Justice Department considers that charge a hate crime. Closing arguments in the trial and the start of jury deliberations are expected on Tuesday.

Defense lawyers say that federal officials, who relied on a paid informant who infiltrated the group, have overstepped by trying to criminalize offensive but legal speech. The lawyers argued that the men’s conversations, many of them secretly recorded by the informant and played for the jurors, amounted to idle talk. No one was physically injured in Garden City.

The trial comes at a time when threats against religious and racial minorities, particularly Muslims, and incidents of hate-related violence have escalated nationally, according to the F.B.I. and organizations that monitor hate crimes. Mosques have been firebombed; women and men in head coverings have been assaulted; and businesses and homes have been vandalized. In some cases, people have been killed.

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“It is now approaching the level of hate violence against the same communities that we saw in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of SAALT: South Asian Americans Leading Together, a national advocacy organization. In the 12 months following the presidential election in November 2016, there were 213 reported incidents of hate violence targeted at Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, South Asian and Middle Eastern people, a 64 percent increase from the previous 12 months, according to a study compiled by SAALT.

a group of people posing for the camera: From left, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein, who are charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. © Sedgwick County Sherriff's Office, via Associated Press From left, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Stein, who are charged with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. Kansas in particular has seen a series of hate-motivated crimes in recent years. In 2014, a white supremacist killed three people outside Jewish centers in Overland Park. And last year, a man fatally shot one Indian immigrant and wounded another at a restaurant in Olathe after shouting, “Get out of my country.”

From the beginning, the Garden City case has been intertwined with politics. The men were arrested less than four weeks before the 2016 election, and prosecutors say they had planned to carry out the bombing on Nov. 9, the day after voters selected a new president.

3 men convicted in Kansas plot to bomb Somali refugees

  3 men convicted in Kansas plot to bomb Somali refugees A federal jury has found three men guilty of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees in Kansas. Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen were convicted on Wednesday of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was also convicted of a charge of lying to the FBI. Sentencing is set for June 27. (Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office via AP, File) WICHITA, Kan. — A federal jury on Wednesday found three men guilty of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees in Kansas.

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Kansans voted overwhelmingly for Donald J. Trump, and defense lawyers sought to pick a jury from counties where high percentages of people voted for him. The lawyers said the case was “uniquely political” and that they wanted a pool with more rural, conservative jurors.

The defendants chose not to testify during the trial, but sat quietly in sport coats, ties and leg shackles as prosecutors showed the mostly white jury the rambling handwritten manifesto. The document contained alarming messages, but also listed grievances that sounded common, and well within the conservative mainstream: Border security was too weak, it said. Jobs had moved overseas. The Obama administration had overreached.

At one point, Melody Brannon, a lawyer for Mr. Allen, even alluded to Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan, suggesting that the manifesto called for “coming together as a nation, making America great again.”

“All of those statements reflect the political talk in 2016,” Ms. Brannon, Kansas’ federal public defender, said of the manifesto. “There is nothing in that document that is outside the political talk going on.”

But prosecutors portrayed the militia group’s views as anything but ordinary. The men, they said, were alarmed by growing populations of Muslim immigrants in places like Garden City and were willing to use violence to force them out.

Three Kansas militiamen who plotted to bomb Muslims are found guilty on terrorism charges

  Three Kansas militiamen who plotted to bomb Muslims are found guilty on terrorism charges The men spent months plotting to bomb an apartment building housing Somali refugees and a mosque in Garden City, Kan., prosecutors said.Patrick Stein, 49, Curtis Allen, 50, and Gavin Wright, 50, were found guilty on charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring to violate the civil housing rights of others. The men spent months plotting to bomb an apartment building housing Somali refugees and a mosque in Garden City, Kan., on the day after the 2016 presidential election.

Change your edition back to menu. No idle threat. 14, the Department of Justice released a litany of accusations against a trio of Kansas militants allegedly involved in a plot to murder Somali immigrants.

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“He’s talked about killing Muslims, even babies,” Special Agent Amy Kuhn, who led the domestic terrorism investigation for the F.B.I., said of Mr. Stein, one of the men on trial.

Garden City, population 26,700, is an increasingly diverse place where Hispanics comprise nearly half the population and a growing number of residents come from places like Somalia, Myanmar, Mexico and Sudan. It is also a Republican stronghold: Mr. Trump carried Garden City’s county by a 31-point margin, and he won more than 80 percent of the vote in some adjacent counties.

As the 2016 presidential race ramped up, Agent Kuhn said, the vitriol in the militia group increased. At various points, the men considered attacks on Mr. Obama, members of Congress and fellow Kansans who had helped Somalis and Muslims.

Eventually, the men, who each lived about an hour’s drive from Garden City, focused on the Mary Street apartments. They started gathering supplies, making homemade explosives and holding planning meetings, which the F.B.I.’s informant recorded, sometimes with country music playing in the background, the agent said.

“The risk was that the defendants would carry out their plan and a bunch of people on Mary Street would not be alive,” Agent Kuhn said.

The apartment complex the men chose as a target was the hub of Garden City’s small Somali community, and the site of its makeshift mosque. Ifrah Ahmed, 28, a Somali refugee living in Garden City, said residents were shocked and terrified after the arrests were announced.

“Everybody was thinking, ‘Now we have to move again. Now we have to start all over again,’ ” Ms. Ahmed said in an interview.

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  Exclusive: 'Everyday Guy' Describes How He Brought Down An American Terrorist Cell WICHITA, Kan. ― Three anti-Muslim domestic terrorists who plotted to blow up a Garden City apartment complex where many Somali Muslim immigrants lived were convicted on Wednesday on federal charges that could send them to prison for life. Five weeks into the trial, jurors deliberated for less than a full day before finding Kansas militiamen Patrick Stein, Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright guilty on all charges. But it wasn’t just the trio on trial.

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No such exodus occurred. Ms. Ahmed said other Garden City residents expressed their support after the militia plot was made public. The city’s population of Somalis has actually grown since then, she said, to 350 or more.

“It became a very unifying thing, from people across the political spectrum and the religious spectrum, that we weren’t going to tolerate this,” said the Rev. Denise Pass, a Presbyterian pastor in Garden City who helped organize a candlelight vigil at the Mary Street apartments after the arrests. “And we weren’t going to be frightened, either.”

If you have experienced, witnessed or read about a hate crime or incident of bias or harassment, you can use this form to send information about the incident to Race/Related and other partners in the Documenting Hate project. The form is not a report to law enforcement or any government agency. These resources may be helpful for people who have experienced harassment. If you witness harassment, here are some tips for responding.

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