(WASHINGTON) — The FBI has arrested a group of anarchists who allegedly plotted to use high-powered explosives to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio, and enlist homeless people to attack financial institutions in downtown Cleveland.
Douglas Wright, 26, Brandon Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, all self-described anarchists, have been charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce. Two other men Conner Stevens, 20 and Joshua Stafford, 23, were also arrested and may face similar charges.
According to the criminal complaint, last October the men began discussing plans to knock bank signs off of buildings in Cleveland. The men allegedly discussed the idea of using smoke grenades on the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Cleveland to create a diversion while they carried out their plan to topple the bank signs.
Wright, the alleged ringleader, had also discussed trying to recruit homeless people from shelters to carry out his plans to attack symbols of corporate and financial institutions.
The men were identified after a paid FBI informant alerted the FBI to their alleged plans to target the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge on Route 82, which spans the Cuyahoga River south of Cleveland.
According to the complaint, the FBI informant recorded numerous conversations with Wright in which he discussed the need to obtain explosive devices or make them using the book The Anarchist Cookbook.
Brandon Baxter allegedly told the informant that destroying a bridge would cause great financial harm.
“Taking out a Bridge in the business district would cost the … corporate big wigs a lot of money,” Baxter allegedly said.
Wright and Baxter also discussed trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland.
The FBI said they used the informant to facilitate the men getting C4 explosives that they would use to target the bridge. According to the criminal complaint, Stevens and Stafford were recruited towards the end of their planning to help them execute the attack. The men were arrested as they allegedly arranged to pick up the explosives.
“The complaint in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot,” said U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach. “The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions.”
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