The “Crusaders” knew they wanted to kill Muslims – and with luck, use the “bloodbath” to ignite a religious war – but for months they couldn’t settle on a plan.
The easiest way would be to grab guns, go to the predominantly Somali-Muslim apartment complex they’d been surveilling and start kicking in doors, court documents said. They would spare no one, not even babies.
In the end, they decided to set off bombs similar to the one Timothy McVeigh used in 1995 to kill 168 people in Oklahoma City. They planned to strike after the Nov. 8 election, investigators said.
Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein face federal charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction to blow up an apartment complex, a mosque and Muslim immigrants from Somalia, the Department of Justice announced Friday.
Federal court documents reveal how the trio’s hatred and Islamophobia coalesced into a plan for domestic terrorism.
It was ultimately undone by an FBI confidential informant and Allen’s girlfriend, who showed authorities Allen’s supply room after he allegedly hit her during a fight.
Getting the tip
Earlier this year, investigators were tipped off by the informant, who had attended meetings of a group calling itself the Crusaders. Allen, Wright and Stein were the leaders and the chief architects of the plan, investigators say.
The informant said the group’s focus was an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, that had an apartment-turned-mosque attended by Muslims from Somalia. The Crusaders referred to them as cockroaches.
“They chose the target location based on their hatred of these groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up,'” according to a criminal complaint unsealed this week.
As they hatched a plan, Stein took the lead on surveillance. Sometimes he rode alone, sometimes he would have the confidential informant drive him. He would survey potential targets at the apartment complex, the mosque or a nearby mall.
Inside the vehicle he kept a pistol, an assault rifle and ammunition, a bullet-resistant vest and a night vision scope.
The surveillance wasn’t covert.
“Stein, at various times, yelled at Somali women dressed in traditional garb, calling them “f—— raghead b——,” the complaint says.
On trips, he also admiringly discussed the Oklahoma City bombing and the fuel oil and ammonium nitrate device McVeigh exploded in front of it.
All the while, the three men mulled their plans, using high-tech and simple methods to avoid detection. They used an app called Zello to encrypt their phone calls. Sometimes, they met in an open field.
Their conversations blurred between active planning and hate speech.
“Make sure if you start using your bow on them cockroaches, make sure you dip them in pig’s blood before you shoot them,” Stein said in an April 2016 Zello call that was recorded by the confidential informant. Consuming pork is forbidden by Islam.
Plans take shape
At a meeting a month later, Allen suggested the group make hundreds of signs saying “‘I support illegal immigration, I go against the constitution on a daily basis, I do not have any care for my fellow citizens in the state or in the town that I represent.’ … and then for everyone of them that we blow the top of their head off we just put that around their neck.”
Their plans began to solidify over the summer as they narrowed down their targets. In August, they settled on the apartment complex in Garden City, a Somali-Muslim enclave, the complaint says. They planned to use cars to set off explosions at the exits to the complex. The explosions would boom around prayer time, when most people would be gathering.
At some point, Allen began watching YouTube videos to learn how to make explosives.
He also got to work on a manifesto. But federal investigators, monitoring recordings of their meetings, already knew the group’s guiding philosophies:
“The only f—— way this country’s ever going to get turned around is it will be a bloodbath and it will be a nasty, messy motherf——,” Stein said in June.
“Unless a lot more people in this country wake up and smell the f—— coffee and decide they want this country back … we might be too late, if they do wake up … I think we can get it done. But it ain’t going to be nothing nice about it.”
The federal case
In September, the feds strengthened their case. Stein met with a man who said he could get the group guns. But the gunrunner was really an FBI employee, and the guns Stein fired in a rural part of Finney County, Kansas, were from the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia.
The Crusaders had other problems. Allen was arrested Tuesday for domestic battery. His girlfriend said Allen beat her during an argument over money. She told the officers who responded that Allen had access to a gun.
One of the last conversations investigators recorded of the Crusaders was when Stein told an undercover agent that Allen’s girlfriend “needs to disappear.”
But it was already too late for the group. She showed officers the room where Allen had been making ammunition and said she believed he had been mixing explosives, too. Police say it was hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, which is used to create homemade blasting caps.
Investigators closed in on Allen on Tuesday, trailing a GMC Yukon that Allen had been driving and stopping it near Highway 83. Inside the SUV, they found AR-15 and AK-47 magazines, and bullets for a handgun – a weapons cache they believe was linked to the planned attacks.
The men were arrested last week and face life in prison if convicted.