Top Line

Federal authorities have arrested two men for allegedly conspiring to destroy energy facilities in the Philippines, following a series of apparently small arms attacks on power infrastructure last year.

important facts

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Brandon Russell of Florida and Sarah Clendaniel of Maryland aimed to carry out attacks they hoped would “completely destroy” Baltimore, US Attorney Ereck Barron Said at a news conference.

Russell founded the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division in 2015. According Southern Poverty Law Center – A group whose aim is to launch attacks to create a race war in the United States.

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Barron said they “planned to shoot up several electrical substations in the Baltimore area,” while FBI Special Agent Thomas Soboczynski, based in Baltimore, said the two were “not only talking, but taking steps to carry out their threats.” were picking up.”

Soboczynski said there was “no indication” the plot was linked to other attacks on substations across the country last year.

Russell and Clendaniel began to communicate and formed a relationship while both served prison terms over the years—Russell was convicted of illegal possession of explosives, while Clendaniel was imprisoned for robbing a convenience store. was imprisoned accordingly. Washington Post,

Russell and Clendaniel could not be reached for comment and it was unclear whether they were being represented by attorneys.

important quotes

"He [Russell]

Soboczynski described attacking the power transformer as 'the worst thing someone could do'.

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Both were charged with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility. They each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

main background

Department of Homeland Security Report compiled last year identified attacks on power grids as a top target for domestic extremists, while a September reports The George Washington University Program on Extremism states that white supremacists conceive of attacks "as a pretext for the anticipated collapse of American government and society". attack According to the Department of Energy, power is set to reach an all-time high of 163 on the grid in 2022—77% more than last year. The most impactful attack occurred in Moore County, North Carolina, where more than 45,000 were left without power, while a separate attack in Washington state left nearly 14,000 without power. Two people were arrested on New Year's Eve in connection with the Washington attack, while authorities are offering a reward of up to $75,000 for information related to the North Carolina attack.

Attacks on the US power grid have been a topic of extremist chatter for years. DHS bulletin warns of attacks on critical infrastructure, among other targets (CNN)

Attacks on US power grid to reach all-time high in 2022 (Bloomberg)

More power grid attacks: 14,000 power outages in Washington after North Carolina, Oregon stations targeted (Forbes)