A shocking plot to “completely destroy” a major city was foiled last week by the FBI. Two suspects, a nationally known neo-Nazi leader and a Maryland resident, were taken into custody before they could launch an attack on Baltimore’s power grid.
This blog post will provide an overview of the alleged plot and its perpetrators, and discuss why this story is so significant.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the neo-Nazi leader, Brandon Russell, is a founder of the Atomwaffen Division, a group bent on “ushering in the collapse of civilization.” The Anti-Defamation League reports that the group admires Charles Manson and supports “the idea of lone wolf violence.”
Sarah Clendaniel, the other suspect, is a Maryland resident. Federal authorities described the alleged plot as “racially or ethnically motivated,” and it is worth noting that more than 61% of Baltimore residents are Black.
The FBI informant claimed to have been contacted by Russell, who wanted “to attack electrical substations and has provided guidance on how to cause maximum damage.” Russell then connected the informant with Clendaniel, and the pair worked with urgency, as Clendaniel said she was terminally ill with a kidney ailment.
Clendaniel had five stations in her crosshairs, located in Norrisville, Reisterstown, and Perry Hall, Maryland, and two more “in the vicinity of Baltimore.” The pair planned to “ring” the city with attacks, and if they hit a number of them all in the same day, they would “completely destroy this whole city,” Clendaniel allegedly said in a recorded conversation.
Thomas J. Sobocinski, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore office, said the suspects were serious in their efforts aimed at paralyzing the city of 580,000. “The accused were not just talking, but taking steps to fulfill their threats and further their extremist goals. Russell provided instructions and location information. He described attacking the power transformers as the greatest thing somebody can do,” Sobocinski said.
Attacks on the nation’s power grid came into focus in December, following two high-profile incidents. There were shootings at two electrical substations in central North Carolina in early December, and then attacks at four electricity substations on Christmas weekend near Tacoma, Washington.
This story is a stark reminder of the dangers of extremism and the importance of remaining vigilant against potential attacks. It is a testament to the FBI’s success in thwarting a potentially catastrophic attack on Baltimore’s power grid and the lives of its citizens.