Three men accused of plotting to bomb Somali immigrants in western Kansas were preparing to defend themselves in the event of "massive social upheaval" as they accumulated firearms and ammunition, a defense attorney contends.
The arguments were the first glimpse into the unfolding defense strategy for three men prosecutors say where conspiring to detonate truck bombs at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live in the meatpacking town of Garden City. The statements came during a detention hearing for Patrick Stein, who pleaded not guilty to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Prosecutors contend that Stein is the leader of a militia group called the Crusaders, though his attorney, Ed Robinson, denies his client knows of such a group. Robinson also said that ammonia nitrate that the government claims was to be used to make bombs was really for farming.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gwynne Birzer ordered Stein to be held pending trial, citing the "sense of hate" exhibited in prosecutors' evidence and noting "the grave danger you pose to the community if you are released."
Prosecutors allege that Stein, 47, Gavin Wright, 51, and Curtis Allen, 49, planned to attack the apartment complex, which contained a mosque in one of the units, the day after the Nov. 8 election. Wright waived his detention hearing on Friday and pleaded not guilty. Allen's hearing is Monday.
In text messages with an undercover FBI agent, Stein, using the screen name Orkin Man, referred to Somali immigrants as "cockroaches" and expressed his belief that the government — from the president down through his Cabinet and "even getting down to the local government" — is run by a terrorist organization, Assistant U.S. Atty. Anthony Mattivi said.
Robinson, Stein's attorney, said the men wanted to be prepared to defend themselves and weren't planning a preemptive strike.
According to the texts prosecutors presented, Stein allegedly said the group had hoped to attack on Sept. 11, but the group was not ready.
Instead, Stein told the undercover agent, the group decided to wait until after the election, fearing an attack would help the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.