A neo-Nazi couple was arrested and charged with conspiracy to damage power substations encircling Baltimore City that would “completely destroy” the metro area, according to Department of Justice (DoJ) court documents.
On Monday, DoJ prosecutors announced Florida resident Brandon Clint Russell, an alleged leader of the neo-Nazi terror group Atomwaffen Divison, and Catonsville resident Sarah Beth Clendaniel conspired to destroy power substations with gunfire.
“It would probably permanently completely lay this city to waste if we could do that successfully,” Clendaniel allegedly said last month, according to the criminal complaint.
The DoJ said Russell analyzed the metro area with open-source maps detailing critical infrastructure locations. He allegedly said the attack on more than one electrical substation would unleash a “cascading failure” that would plunge the city into darkness.
The FBI allegedly found a manifesto written by Clendaniel, referencing Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Hitler, and Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Brevik. She said, “I would sacrifice everything for my people to just have a chance for our cause to succeed.”
At a press conference earlier today, Tom Sobocinski, who leads the FBI’s Baltimore field office, told reporters the neo-Nazi couple “conspired to inflict maximum harm on the power grid.” He said, “The accused were not just talking, but taking steps to fulfil their threats and further their extremist goals.”
Sobocinski continued, “The threat posed by domestic violent extremists is evolving and persistent.”
He added, “The FBI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement and private sector partners to identify and disrupt any potential threat to the safety of our citizens.”
The local media outlet The Baltimore Banner reported that utility company Exelon was notified about the plot to target its electric substations with gunfire. “Law enforcement acted before the perpetrators were able to carry out their plan, and there was no damage to any of the substations, nor was any service disrupted. “The substations are not believed to have been targeted out of any connection to BGE or Exelon, or because of any particular vulnerability,” the statement said.