Meanwhile, Back On Page 23 …

I’ve mentioned a few things lately that have gotten lost in the maelstrom of trumpantics that takes up most of the media space and sucks the energy out of us.  Here is yet another of those buried-on-page-23 stories that we need to be aware of.

They called themselves ‘The Crusaders’.  Their real names are Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein.These three men are among the most despicable dregs of society, for they are haters of Muslims and plotted, in 2016, to murder hundreds of Muslims in Garden City, Kansas, for no other reason than that they were Muslims.  Fortunately, their plot was discovered and the men were arrested before they were able to carry out their plan.  Their trial began this week.

The plot began sometime in 2016 and was planned to take place after the election on November 8th, because all three were ardent Trump supporters and they didn’t want their actions to hurt Trump’s chances. The plan was to use homemade bombs to blow up both the mosque and an entire apartment complex in Garden City, home to a large contingent of Somali immigrants.  Stein, the apparent ‘ringleader’, is recorded saying, “The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. If you’re a Muslim, I’m going to enjoy shooting you in the head.”

They had framed a document, a manifesto, as they called it, to be released after their heinous plot had been carried out, and they believed it would show their terror attacks to be a ‘patriotic defense of the Constitution’, and they hoped they would inspire others to commit similar crimes.

Their plan was fashioned after the one perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City in 1995.  They planned to park trucks loaded with explosives at the corners of the complex, placing bombs disguised as trash receptacles, and laying explosives in the duct work. They spoke of shooting survivors, after leveling the buildings. Their plot fell apart when Stein met with an undercover FBI agent and tried to make a deal to obtain C-4 high explosives, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and even an Apache helicopter.  He was arrested two days later.

The trial began in Wichita Kansas with jury selection on Tuesday and is expected to last six weeks.  The three are charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Stein also faces a weapons-related charge and Wright has an additional charge of lying to the FBI.  All three have pleaded ‘not guilty’.  Now, there was a time when this trial would have been a no-brainer, the three would have been found guilty and begin serving their appropriate life sentences.  That was back in the day … this is now, and nothing is so simple.

The defense attorneys appear to be portraying their clients as the ‘victims’, rather than the perpetrators.  They argue, among other things, that …

“If you all think back to the summer of ‘16, that was a very difficult time. The media fed this division by reporting on it non-stop. Rarely did you hear anything good about … a politician. Hate ruled the day. It was into this mix that we land.”

Yes, well, literally all of us were exposed to those stresses, but it didn’t drive us to plan to murder more than 100 innocent people.

In his opening statements, Richard Federico, one of the defense attorneys, claimed that the plotters in this case are the FBI, and the victims are, in fact, the three admitted Muslim-haters.

Defense attorneys argued the case is “uniquely political” because much of the anticipated evidence is in reaction to the 2016 presidential election. They contended the case will require jurors to weigh evidence regarding whether the alleged conduct constitutes the crimes charged, or whether it is constitutionally protected speech and assembly and implicates the right to bear arms.  Seriously???

The three men were largely influenced by the garbage they saw on social media, and they fell for the many conspiracy theories that abounded during that time.  Stein’s attorney, Jim Pratt, says his client believed that Walmarts linked by underground tunnels were being turned into FEMA camps and that whatever the result of the ‘16 election, Obama was not going to move out of the White House, but would instead declare martial law.  The men’s Facebook pages are loaded with pictures, memes and blurbs from Fox and other far-right sites that put forth theories that 9/11 was an inside job, Burger King follows Sharia Law, and President Obama was the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Two things stand out for me about this case and the trial.  The first is that, in light of the Russian propaganda and now the new revelations about propaganda by Cambridge Analytica, we can see that there is a secondary danger.  Such propaganda surely may sway voters, but it can also plant seeds in minds that may be less than stable and thus provide fertile ground, and those seeds can sprout into something lethal.

And the second thing is that as I said earlier, this should be an open-and-shut case, but it won’t be.  Not so long ago, the FBI would have gotten the presumption of innocence among law-and-order lovers. But with distrust of the “deep state” prevalent, with the rise of white supremacy, and the FBI under near constant attack by Donald Trump, I’m not so sure we can expect common sense to be the rule of the day here.  This, then, is why this case bears watching, for it may set a precedent … perhaps a dangerous one. Do you think there aren’t more like these three out there?  Think again.

19 thoughts on “Meanwhile, Back On Page 23 …

  1. Pingback: Sunday Afternoon Bits ‘n Pieces … | Filosofa's Word

  2. This is gorgeous! If you have time would you mind checking my blog? I’ve been in love with yours for quite some time now, I wish I could write like you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Jill,

    Thanks for giving the Crusaders’ story the additional coverage that it deserves. Ii is comforting that law enforcement did stop these guys in their tracks.

    This could be classified as domestic terrorism which the president and many of his republican cronies would rather ignore. But law enforcement did its job.

    These guys do need to face consequences. There needs to be a message sent. I’m betting on good people doing the right thing. Otherwise, these 3 gentlemen would most likely present a danger to others if set fee in their city.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Gronda! Yes, it is comforting that this plot was discovered and thwarted by the FBI … BUT … that was in 2016. With the changes taking place, would it be thwarted next time? You know there are more out there just waitng for their opportunity, and I think Trump has diminished the FBI, at least to an extent, with his constant criticism.

      This is surely terrorism. Everybody is so all-fired worried about Islamic terrorism aka Daesh (ISIS) and others, but the reality is they have little interest in the U.S. Our biggest problem is homegrown terrorists, the very kind that Trump & Co are inspiring and creating! Remember Pizzagate? Remember Charlottesville? Nothing to do with Islam or Middle-Easterners.

      I’m sure these three will receive some punishment, but I’m betting the punishment will be far less than the crime. And I am disheartened by the number who rallied in support of them, even taking collections for their defense! What are we becoming, when we place so little value on human lives?


      Liked by 2 people

  4. Good grief is right! These three individuals are members of a small militia group known as “The Crusaders.” The name’s apparent reference to the medieval Crusades – where European Christians sought to recapture the Holy Land from Muslim rule – should not be overlooked. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has identified hundreds of such groups in the U.S. alone. Although there are some differences between them, their commonality can be described as white supremacist ideology centering on the Christian Identity and Sovereign Citizen movements. The latter is violently anti-government, rejecting the legitimacy of the U.S. federal government and asserting that the highest legal authority in America rests with local sheriffs – a belief long associated with the Posse Comitatus.

    Scottie is correct. Federal agencies have been reluctant to label these groups as terrorist organizations because of the fear that doing so would bring to the surface latent racism within the white population.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill you did a great job reporting on this. One thing I think most people will miss is these guys are not labeled domestic terrorists, nor are they being charged under the statues on terrorism. One of the first things tRump and crew did was remove the existing policy on domestic terrorism and change the focus. Basically the only ones who now qualify under the policy ( not the law but the DOJ policy ) are non whites and muslim foreigners. If you are white and maybe also christian you can not . will not, and can not be charged with terrorism. After all these old white guys in power know only muslims and other brown people do that. White people commit crimes, not terrorism. And if you recall the reporting on the shooting in Parkland Cruz was never labeled a terrorist, yet the shooter at the Pulse nightclub Omar Mateen was described as a terrorist. Why the difference? Cruz was a home grown white boy, Mateen was a brown semi muslim. This hateful bigotry is preventing us from dealing with a huge problem our country has with violence. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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