These White Terrorists Were Just 'Knuckleheads,' Nothing To See Here, Go Home
Back in 2016, three white Kansas sovereign citizen militiamen plotted to blow up Muslim Somali immigrants living in an apartment complex in Garden City. They planned to do this the day after the election, so that their actions wouldn't reflect poorly on their hero, Donald J. Trump. They discussed these plans, along with their hatred of Muslims, with an FBI informant posing as an arms dealer named "Brian."
Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen, members of a militia called the "Crusaders," are now in court, on trial for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
So far, their defense attorney has attempted to portray all of this plotting -- which involved them asking "Brian" how to get electric blasting caps that would “detonate with a cellphone-type deal” -- as mere "locker room talk" among people who were just very passionate and very patriotic and very afraid that the Muslims were here to steal their freedoms.
I don't know about you, but it sure seems unlikely that anyone would try this strategy if the accused were not three white dudes from Kansas who were plotting to murder Muslims. Especially if it were the other way around. Also, it seems like plotting to blow up a building and talking to an arms dealer about the supplies you need to do so is not a normal thing that normal people just casually do sometimes when they are feeling kinda frustrated by the world. I, for one, have been mad many times in my life, and have yet to turn to fantasies of blowing up apartment complexes for the purposes of murdering everyone who lives there. Also, people who are just letting off some steam rarely go through the trouble of inquiring about supplies from an arms dealer.
The Huffington Post reports that last week, when "Brian" testified, Allen's public defender Rich Federico again tried to suggest that the three men were simply "knuckleheads," and asked why he didn't tell local police about their plotting so that they could swing by and tell them to not bomb anyone.
“Hey knucklehead,” Federico suggested the police say. “We know what you’re talking about. Knock it off.”
Again, probably not a strategy that anyone would try with anyone who was not a white dude who was real mad about Muslims existing. Can't really see them doing that with Muslims who might plan to bomb a building, or even people dealing drugs or in a gang. Can't really see them going up to a mob enforcer and being all, "Hey! We heard you plan to kill this guy! Don't do that!" In fact, it kind of seems like letting criminals know that the police know what they are up to kind of defeats the purpose of going undercover to begin with. Especially because plotting a terrorist attack in the first place is a crime in and of itself.
This strategy seems like it would be especially not useful given that Stein had previously texted "Brian" explaining that he and his fellow militia members were “dedicated patriots... willing to die for this country if that is what it takes to get it back.”
The idea that these men were not serious, that they would have been easily thwarted by being told to "knock it off," is easily disproven by Stein's actions and statements.
Stein wrote that they would set off bombs on both sides of the building, “set them off at the same time and throw a fucking party! LOL.” He wrote that the shock wave from the blast would make “jello out of their insides.” He spoke of his hope that “people from miles and miles away will take note of the beautiful job we did!!” and be inspired to launch similar attacks.
Stein bought wholeheartedly into the idea that the undercover officer was a weapons dealer. He delivered fertilizer he believed would be used to make the bomb. Prosecutors played a video of him in a vehicle with the undercover officers as they scouted out the location of the planned attack.
Whimsy and fertilizer bombs rarely go hand in hand.
Stein also regularly talked about how difficult it was for him to not just go around killing Muslims, whom he referred to as cockroaches. One informant, Dan Day, testified that Stein once came close to just shooting a group of Muslim women for no reason.
“I could knock ’em off, kill ’em right there,” Stein said, according to Day. “Those fucking raghead bitches,” Stein also said, loud enough for the women to hear, as he grabbed a black handgun in the truck.
“Did you do anything to possibly stop him?” the prosecutor asked Day in court Wednesday.
“As [Stein] was pulling out his weapon, I was actually pulling out my weapon also,” Day recalled. The prosecutor asked why.
“Um,” Day responded, choking back tears. “I was not going to let him kill these innocent women because they were who they were, because they were Somalis or Muslims.”
“It was very scary,” he added. “I thought I might have to kill somebody. I’m not a killer.”
Sounds like he might be slightly more dangerous than one of The Three Stooges?
All accused criminals are, of course, entitled to a defense. But to act as if we all have nothing to fear from simple country militiamen who just really love the country that they are sovereign citizens of is frightening. One of the worst terrorist attacks in American history was carried out by men like this. Right-wing terror attacks and attempts happen pretty regularly, and yet there's still this hesitation towards taking them seriously. Not just from their defense attorneys, but by the world at large.
These wanted to kill innocent people -- men, women and children -- who had done nothing to them other than having a religion they disliked. They planned to kill them. They garnered supplies to kill them. They deserve to be in jail, just as they would if they planned to kill anyone else.
Then there's this guy, a white supremacist in Wisconsin who exploded himself making "ISIS-style" bombs last month. Heard of him?
The scene was so volatile that authorities barred the rest of the apartment building’s residents from re-entering their homes, and burned the entire building to the ground in a 1,600-degree controlled blaze overseen by 100 firefighters. Residents left their valuables inside.
Just another knucklehead. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse