American federal authorities have charged a neo-Nazi man and a woman from Maryland for plotting to attack Baltimore-area electrical substations.
Brandon Clint Russell, 27, and Sarah Beth Clendaniel, 34, reportedly conspired to attack the substations and take out power to parts of the city in what prosecutors said was intended to be “furtherance of Russell’s racially or ethnically motivated extremist beliefs”.
In a statement published yesterday, Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek Barron said, “This planned attack threatened lives and would have left thousands of Marylanders in the cold and dark.”
According to the FBI, as cited by CNN, the pair “conspired to inflict maximum harm on the power grid. “The accused were not just talking, but taking steps to fulfill their threats and further their extremist goals.”
At the time of his arrest, Russell–an admitted neo-Nazi–had already been facing a federal conviction related to possession of an unregistered destructive device.
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The report yesterday said this is not the first time Russell’s name has come up in relation to potential domestic terrorism targeting the country’s electrical grid. In 2017, an FBI investigation into the murder of two of Russell’s roommates in Orlando, Florida, revealed that he was conspiring to attack Florida energy facilities.
Devon Arthurs, one of Russell’s roommates in Florida, murdered two other roommates who had made fun of him for converting from neo-Nazism to Islam.
Domestic terrorism targeting energy infrastructure is on the rise in the United States. Late last year, two power substations in North Carolina were attacked by gunfire, knocking tens of thousands of people off the grid for almost a week.
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It was just the latest incident that has prompted energy experts to warn about an uptick in energy-related attacks by domestic extremist groups.
Last year, there were 25 physical attacks on energy facilities in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy.
By Bosco Agba