Neo-Nazi Couple Criminally Charged in Plot to ‘Completely Destroy’ the City of Baltimore

On Monday, FBI officials divulged the details of a case that is stranger than fiction.

Agents at the Baltimore Field Office filed a criminal complaint charging Sarah Beth Clendaniel, of Catonsville, Maryland, and Brandon Clint Russell, of Orlando, Florida, with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility.

Officials said that the plot was designed to ‘completely destroy the city.’

According to FBI officials, the pair allegedly wanted to carry out the attack in furtherance of extremist beliefs.

Investigating authorities said they found a manifesto written by Clandaniel that references Hitler, as well as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Norwegian terrorist Anders Brevik.

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The two wanted to cause as much damage as possible, with officials saying they “conspired to inflict maximum harm on the power grid,” Tom Sobocinski, who heads the FBI’s field office in Baltimore, said during a news conference Monday. “The accused were not just talking, but taking steps to fulfill their threats and further their extremist goals.”

Sources at the Justice Department say that an FBI informant had been in contact with Russell, whose online username was Homunculus, since June of last year.

At one point, as Russell and the source discussed Mylar balloons, Russell reportedly said that “putting holes in transformers though is the greatest thing somebody can do,” and he discussed ideas about how to attack electrical substations.

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Russell and Clendaniel likely targeted Baltimore due to its large black population, where African-Americans make up 61.6% of the population.

Maryland’s U.S. Attorney said that the attack would have ‘threatened lives’ and harmed thousands of Maryland residents.

“This alleged planned attack threatened lives and would have left thousands of Marylanders in the cold and dark,” said Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron. “We are united and committed to using every legal means necessary to disrupt violence, including hate-fueled attacks.”

Russell is allegedly a leader of Atomwaffen, a Neo-Nazi group that has previously promoted violent tactics and been involved in violent attacks.

Clendaniel stated that the intent of the planned attack was to ‘completely lay the city to waste,’ saying that she and co-conspirator Brandon Russell wanted to “would completely destroy this whole city” and that a “good four or five shots through the center of them . . . should make that happen.” She further added, “[i]t would probably permanently completely lay this city to waste if we could do that successfully.”

One of Baltimore’s top agents at the FBI said that the threat domestic extremists pose to the United States is ‘evolving and persistent’.

“The threat posed by domestic violent extremists is evolving and persistent,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI’s Baltimore field office. “The FBI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement and private sector partners to identify and disrupt any potential threat to the safety of our citizens.”

Authorities confirmed their belief that the attack was ‘racially and ethnically motivated’.

“Driven by their ideology of racially-motivated hatred, the defendants allegedly schemed to attack local power grid facilities,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen. “The Justice Department will not tolerate those who threaten critical infrastructure and imperil communities in the name of domestic violent extremism.”

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