The U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland announced Monday that the FBI arrested two people last week, including a known neo-Nazi leader, in a plot to attack Baltimore’s power grid.
The FBI referred to Sara Clendaniel and Brandon Russell as “racially or ethnically motivated” extremists.
Russell is the founder of a neo-Nazi group called the Atomwaffen Division, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has asserted is bent on “ushering in the collapse of civilization.” The Anti-Defamation League, meanwhile, notes that the group admires the late mass murderer Charles Manson and supports “the idea of lone wolf violence.”
“Members of Atomwaffen have already been connected to several murders in the group’s short history,” according to the ADL.
The alleged plot against Baltimore’s power grid was discovered in June when an FBI informant claimed to have been contacted by Russell who, according to the criminal complaint, wanted “to attack electrical substations and has provided guidance on how to cause maximum damage.”
Russell then hashed out a plan to attack power stations in and around Baltimore with Maryland resident Clendaniel, according to authorities.
They allegedly targeted five power substations so as to put a “‘ring’ around Baltimore.” Authorities say Clendaniel can be heard in a recorded conversation saying that if they hit all five on the same day, they “would completely destroy this whole city.”
Baltimore’s is not the first power system to be targeted for attack. In December, two electrical substations in North Carolina were knocked out by shootings. The multiple pieces of damaged equipment had taken days to repair afterward, causing multiple outages to more than 45,000 homes and businesses.
And on Christmas weekend, four electricity substations in Tacoma, Washington were vandalized to the point of forcing some 14,000 homes and businesses to go without power.