3 charged in plot to bomb Somali immigrants in Garden City

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP/KAKE) -

Three men have been charged for allegedly planning to bomb a housing complex in Garden City where Muslim immigrants from Somalia live and worship.

Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall and FBI Special Agent Eric Jackson held a news conference Friday afternoon to announce the charges.

The men, identified as Curtis Allen, Patrick Stein and Gavin Wright, allegedly planned to detonate explosives at the apartment complex at 312 West Mary. The thwarted attack was planned for the day after the November election. 

The three men were each charged Friday with one count of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. They will make their first appearances in court on Monday.

Beall said the charges stem from an eight-month investigation by the FBI “that is alleged to have taken the investigators deep into a hidden culture of hatred and violence.”

The suspects allegedly conducted surveillance “to size up potential targets,” Beall said. “They stockpiled firearms, ammunition and explosive components. They even prepared a manifesto describing their beliefs to be published after the bombing.”

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The FBI launched an investigation in February. The three were part of a group called the Crusaders and Beall said one suspect stated that the bombing would “wake people up.”

After considering several targets, the three planned to fill four vehicles with explosives and detonate them at the Garden City location, Beall said.

On Wednesday, Patrick Stein met with a confidential FBI source in rural Finney County, where the source showed Stein automatic weapons from the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia. Stein then took the FBI source to the location the suspects had targeted. 

Stein also talked with the source about Allen’s arrest in a domestic violence case in Liberal the previous day, Oct. 11. Stein said he was concerned that Allen’s girlfriend would give Liberal police information about the defendants’ plans.

Beall said the suspects were arrested Friday morning in the Liberal area. Stein is from Wright, Kansas, and Allen and Wright are from Liberal. Wright owns G & H Mobile Home Center at 1250 East Tucker Road. 

An area doctor who works with Somali refugees says some local residents fear the refugees because they mistakenly associate them with a militant group in Somalia.

Dr. John Birky said Friday that he's seen social media postings and heard comments from Garden City-area residents questioning why refugees are coming to the community. He and other doctors are establishing a clinic, and he is working with refugees on a language program.

Birky said the refugees want to assimilate and pursue the American dream. He said many come to the United States to escape strife in Somalia.

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