Five men, described as ‘angry anarchists’, have been arrested and charged with attempting to blow shit up in Ohio. To be precise, “an attractive concrete, multi-arched bridge” connecting two wealthy suburbs (Brecksville and Sagamore Hills) in Cleveland. The five had allegedly been working for months with an FBI informant, whose testimony and evidence will presumably be a crucial feature of the trial. Typically, the informant had a series of previous criminal convictions and is on probation.
You can read the FBI affidavit here.
FBI: 5 men charged in Ohio bridge bomb plot
Kantele Franko (AP)
CLEVELAND (AP) — Five men described by federal authorities as anarchists angry with corporate America and the government were charged Tuesday with plotting to bomb an Ohio bridge linking two wealthy Cleveland suburbs.
The men were arrested Monday night after unknowingly working with an FBI informant for months, a strategy that federal investigators have used repeatedly in recent years to nab alleged terrorists.
“They talked about making a statement against corporate America and the government as some of the motivations for their actions,” U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said in announcing the arrests with the head of the FBI in Cleveland, Stephen Anthony.
The alleged plotters researched explosives and obtained what they thought was C-4 explosives. The material, in fact, was harmless and the public was never at risk, because the men got it from the informant, officials said.
The men planted the fake explosives at the base of the bridge, armed them, went to a remote spot and “entered the codes that they thought would blow up the bridge with innocent people traveling over it,” Dettelbach said.
The men were charged with conspiracy and trying to bomb property used in interstate commerce. All five appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court, where Magistrate Judge Greg White ordered them jailed without bond pending a hearing Monday.
The suspects were identified as Joshua S. Stafford, 23, and Anthony Hayne, 35, both of Cleveland; Brandon L. Baxter, 20, of nearby Lakewood; Connor Stevens, 20, of suburban Berea; and Douglas L. Wright, 26; of Indianapolis. The charges carry possible penalties of more than 20 years in prison.
At the hearing, the men, with wrist manacles chained to the waist, sat in the jury box with their attorneys and acknowledged receiving copies of the complaint against them and an understanding of their rights.
At the end of the hearing, Stevens’ father, James, shouted, “Love you, Connor.” The father left court without commenting.
The target of the plot was a bridge that carries a state highway over part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and a picturesque scenic rail line and canal towpath in the Brecksville area, about 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland.
The men had been associated with the anti-corporate Occupy Cleveland movement…
Federal authorities said their investigation was aided by a paid confidential source who had previous robbery and other convictions and was on probation for passing bad checks. The informant began making contact with the men in October and had recorded conversations with them over the past three months, according to an affidavit.
The men considered different plots over time, including distracting law enforcement with smoke grenades while trying to bring down financial institution signs in downtown Cleveland.
The men also discussed other potential targets, including a law enforcement center, oil wells, a cargo ship or the opening of a new downtown casino, according to the affidavit. The document also alleges that one suspect talked about being part of group planning to cause trouble during an upcoming NATO summit in Chicago.
The group finally settled on blowing up the busy bridge, federal authorities alleged.
The arrests mark the latest case in which an FBI informant plans fake terrorism plots alongside targeted suspects. Several arrests in the last few years indicate it’s a top strategy for the government in preventing terrorism…