Extremist group – On Monday, two persons were charged with conspiring to assault the city of Baltimore, Maryland’s electrical infrastructure.
Federal authorities’ court filings claim that a neo-Nazi leader planned to assault electrical substations with a woman he was seeing.
They went for the neighboring facilities in an effort to completely destroy Baltimore.
The Justice Department filed charges against Sarah Beth Clendaniel and Brandon Clint Russell for conspiring to destroy the electrical grid.
Allegations state that the plan against Maryland on the grounds of race or ethnicity was supported by extreme ideologies.
The two allegedly sought to “inflict maximum harm on the power grid,” according to Tom Sobocisnki, the director of the FBI field office in Baltimore.
“The accused were not just talking, but taking steps to fulfill their threats and further their extremist goals,” said Sobocisnki.
The accusations follow domestic experts’ cautions that extremist groups are attempting to attack power facilities more frequently.
Extremist groups attacking
Two bullets were fired at a power substation in Moore County, North Carolina, in the second part of 2022.
The attack resulted in the loss of energy for 45,000 homes and businesses.
Experts believe that domestic extremist groups may already be preparing other assaults of this nature.
It follows a November FBI warning, the aim of which is still unknown, which cautioned that extremist groups posed a threat to incite societal instability and urge further slaughter.
“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.”
According to the Department of Energy, there were 25 violent assaults on US power plants in 2017.
In addition, 57 complaints of suspicious behavior and 80 vandalism incidents were documented.
With six violent attacks, two sabotage complaints, 32 reports of suspicious behavior, and 52 acts of vandalism, the statistics reflect an increase from 2021 reports.
Most of the reports most likely originate from members of extremist groups.
Monday afternoon in Baltimore’s downtown, District Court Judge Richard Collins received Sarah Beth Clendaniel for the first time.
She shook her head as she went over the allegations against her in order to prepare for the hearing.
Kirstin Hopkins, Clendaniel’s court-appointed attorney, cooperated with the government’s request to keep the defendant locked up while awaiting more hearings.
Read also: Mike Pence joins Trump and Biden in holding documents
She will presumably enter a plea during a subsequent court appearance.
On February 15, her case will also get a preliminary hearing.
Brandon Clint Russell’s initial court appearance was planned for Monday in Orlando.
However, there is presently no updated information surrounding his hearing.
Clendaniel is accused of telling FBI informants during discussions that were taped in January that the facilities were the subject of a scheme to destroy the whole city.
According to the charge documents, she and Russell allegedly supplied the source the facility information.
Brandon Clint Russell also allegedly supplied them a YouTube video of the attack on the North Carolina substation, the informant claimed.
In addition, he is said to have started a neo-Nazi group in his community.
Authorities claim that before planning to target the electrical grid in Maryland, he and his roommates planned a similar attack in Florida.
After a roommate looked into the 2017 murders of two of his roommates, evidence of the alleged conspiracy was found.
Officials stated that Russell and Clendaniel were involved in a real-life and online connection at the news briefing on Monday.
Russell has been in touch with the FBI insider using the name “Homunculus” since June 2022, according to the Justice Department.
Over the course of the next months, he is said to have discussed starting an assault on crucial infrastructure with the source multiple times.
The source and Homunculus talked about Mylar balloons at one point.
He allegedly described additional possible attacks on electrical substations and added that punching holes in transformers is “the greatest thing somebody can do.”
As “Nythra88” and “Kali1889,” Sarah Beth Clendaniel allegedly introduced herself to the FBI source in January.
She allegedly informed the source that she wanted to do something meaningful before passing away from a devastating disease, per the charging paperwork.
She asked for assistance to get firearms.
According to the source, Homunculus and Clendaniel briefed them about their plans to attack power plants.
According to the allegations made by the prosecution, the source recorded a voice conversation that lasted more than two hours on January 24.
Clendaniel sent the informant a message five days later stating that they will target the facilities near Baltimore.
The court papers showed that the two extremist group members had been in contact since at least 2018, while they were both incarcerated at different facilities.
Following his admission to carrying an unregistered device and illegally storing explosive materials, Russell was given a 60-month term in January 2018.
According to court records, his roommate and their other two roommates were informed that he was the group’s leader at the time.
The roommate said that the group intended to strike major US infrastructure including a nuclear plant and electrical wires near Alligator Alley (around Interstate 75).
Court records state that after killing the other two roommates for harassing him for switching from neo-Nazi ideology to Islam, the roommate was questioned by police.
At the time of his release in the newly reported case, Russell was on supervised release.
Clendaniel’s record revealed a number of violations when he was being held in custody in 2006, including an armed robbery at a convenience store using a huge butcher knife.
She received a five-year jail term.
Image source: The Seattle Times