White supremacists plotted to attack the US power grid, FBI say
The FBI is investigating three alleged white supremacists linked with a plot to attack power stations in the southeastern U.S., causing millions of dollars worth of damage, according to an affidavit that was mistakenly unsealed last week.
An Ohio teenager, a man from Wisconsin and a Texas native who was then a Purdue University student are named in the document that was filed under seal along with a search warrant application in Wisconsin’s Eastern U.S. District Court in March.
No charges have yet been filed against the men and the document has now been resealed as the investigation continues, the Associated Press reported.
The teenager, who was said to be 17 years old at the time of the planning and acted as a recruiter, sent messages into an encrypted group of around ten people in November 2019 in which he laid out the plot to create a power outage by shooting rifle rounds into power stations.
The operation, called ‘Lights Out’, aimed to create enough damage that the government would need to spend millions in recovery.
The group was planning Operation ‘Lights Out’ aimed at creating a power outage by shooting rifle rounds into power stations in Miami and Jacksonville, in Florida, (pictured above) and a substation in Colorado Springs, Colorado, among others, in the summer of 2021
It was planning to target power stations in Miami and Jacksonville, in Florida, and a substation in Colorado Springs, Colorado, among others.
‘The plan was to knock out key power grids by strategically shooting rifle rounds into power sub-stations costing the government millions in recovery spending,’ an informant told investigators, according to the records.
The then-Purdue University student was also involved in the plot and sent a text to an FBI informant claiming that ‘leaving the power off would wake people up to the harsh reality of life by wreaking havoc across the nation,’ the affidavit stated.
The Associated Press added that the 17-year-old was also part of a larger encrypted messaging group with more of a dozen people in which he spoke of saving money to buy a ranch where they could organize ‘militant training’.
Members of the messaging group were encouraged to read the books of neo-Nazi James Mason, pictured above
He wished for the group to be ‘operational’ by 2024 when he feared that a Democrat would take the White House but said those plans would be accelerated if Trump lost in 2020.
An informant told FBI investigators that the group ‘definitely wanted to be operational for violence, but also activism,’ according to the affidavit.
The members of the group all allegedly shared white supremacist ideologies.
While they all mainly communicated over the encrypted messaging applications, three of them did meet up in person.
During their conversations on messaging apps, the group discussed white supremacist literature and a ‘uniform’ that would show their commitment to the cause.
Among the recommendations were books by neo-Nazi James Mason, who said of Donald Trump’s 2016 election, ‘To make America Great again you have to make it white again’.
The group also spoke about making their own weapons, using a process known as milling.
That involves taking guns that are 80 percent made but do not have serial number and drilling holes in them to make their own weapons.
According to WISN, the Ohio teen had made plans to go and live with the man in Wisconsin who is also being investigated.
‘Running just isn’t an option for me. I can say with absolute certainty that I will die for this effort. I swear it on my life,’ the man said in a text to the teenager.
‘I can say the same,’ he replied.
The Wisconsin man also allegedly told an FBI undercover agent in February that the group would take ‘direct action’ against the system.
‘If you truly want a fascist society I will put in the effort to work with you but recruitment is long and not going to be easy,’ he allegedly said, adding information on the process by which they would find new recruits.
New members would have to go through a ‘radicalization’ process to enforce a ‘revolutionary mindset’ before being asked to prove they would take action if needed.
More details on how they would prove this were not given.
The groups main plan had involved attacking this power grid in Miami
The man told the undercover agent that if the process seemed too tough, ‘I recommend leaving now, we are extremely serious about our goals and ambitions.’
The affidavit also described how the teen allegedly put up Nazi flags in his bedroom but his mother told him to take them down.
The 17-year-old also spoke on multiple occasions about attempts to establish Nazi militant cells around the country like those of the neo-Nazi network the Atomwaffen Division.
The group wished to establish Nazi militant cells around the country like those of the neo-Nazi network the Atomwaffen Division, whose symbol is pictured above
Members of the Atomwaffen division prescribe to a fringe philosophy known as ‘accelerationism,’ in which they promote the use of mass violence to bring down society.
‘We want to emphasize that there is no imminent public safety threat related to this matter,’ Jennifer Thornton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio, said of the investigation, although no further details could be released.
Federal prosecutors in Ohio are taking the lead on the case.
The investigation began after a fourth man from Canada was stopped at the border and told agents that he was going to visit the teen in Ohio after speaking with him over the messaging app.
He was stopped from trying to enter the U.S. and found with Nazi and white supremacist images on his phone.