Three men were found guilty of plotting to bomb an apartment complex that was home to primarily Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas, NPR reports. Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright, and Patrick Eugene Stein were all convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in addition to violating the housing rights of their planned victims. The men face life in behind bars.
The trio, who were a part of a militia group called the Kansas Security Force, was arrested in 2016 just a few weeks before the plan was set to go in motion. They wrote in a manifesto that the attack would "wake people up."
"They wanted to send the message that Muslims are not welcome here," said prosecutor Risa Berkower at the trial, "Not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America." Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to the outcome as "a significant victory against domestic terrorism and hate crimes."
The men spent time not only gathering firearms and bomb-making materials, but scoping out potential targets. They settled on the building where much of the over 100 residents were immigrants from East Africa. One apartment served as a mosque. The FBI received a tip on the men's plan, and Stein would eventually meet with an undercover agent trying to obtain a bomb, even bringing the agent to the apartment complex they intended to attack.
Their plan involved parking four cars filled with explosives at each corner of the complex, in order to "level the building and kill its occupants," according to the Kansas U.S. attorney's office. "The defendants, in this case, acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin," Sessions also said in a statement. "That’s not just illegal — it’s immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it." Their sentencing is scheduled for June 27.
Though racism and Islamophobia are not new in America, many connect the current wave of hate crimes against people of color, Muslims, and immigrants to the rhetoric of Donald Trump's campaign and administration.