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Yesterday in the midst of the OWS May Day protests taking place around the nation, the U.S. Justice Department revealed exactly how far some of those associated with such protests are willing to go. In Cleveland, Ohio, five men who describe themselves as anarchists were arrested for their attempt to blow up the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge that crosses the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Steven M. Dettelbach, characterized the defendants as men who “took numerous and repeated acts that demonstrated a commitment to violent, terrorist acts.” And despite efforts to distance themselves from these wannabe terrorists, Occupy Cleveland media coordinator Jacob Wagner admitted that “at least some of the five men” attended that group’s events.
The men were arrested late Monday night. According to the complaint filed yesterday morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, their initial plan called for diversionary smoke bombs aimed at distracting law enforcement officials, so the men could destroy financial institution signs placed on high-rise buildings in Cleveland. The plot took a far more serious turn when these men decided to purchase C4 explosives, create two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and place them under the bridge. The IEDs would have been detonated by remote control. Law enforcement officials allege the men had also planned to use the May Day OWS protest in Cleveland as an alibi for their whereabouts when the explosion took place.
Why blow up the bridge? An unnamed FBI official contended that, during the course of the investigation, several members of the group repeatedly complained that the Occupy Wall Street movement “wasn’t violent enough.”
According to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Ryan Taylor, the group was infiltrated by a paid FBI informant. Conversations recorded over a period of months reveal they were interested in attacking a number of different targets, including a train, a federal counterterrorism center, the Group of 8 leaders meeting in Chicago, the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and a neo-Nazi or Ku Klux Klan office. According to court papers, the five-some also considered setting off a car bomb outside the Cleveland branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.
When the men allegedly decided to add explosives to the mix, they agreed to purchase eight one-pound bricks of what they thought was C4 for $50 apiece from an undercover agent. The exchange was reportedly supposed to take place under the bridge on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail near the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brecksville Station. The men allegedly focused on the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, which is heavily traveled, because they believed it would damage both commerce and American corporations.
The core of the group included Douglas L. Wright, a 26-year-old with a Mohawk haircut who has sometimes gone by the alias Cyco; Brandon Baxter, 20, known to use the alias Skabby; and Anthony Hayne, 37. Those men were arrested on charges of conspiracy and trying to use explosives to damage property affecting interstate commerce. The other two men, Connor Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23, were ostensibly late additions to the alleged plot, according to authorities, and, as of this writing, charges were still pending against them. Wright allegedly told the FBI informant that “as long as stuff ‘gets f–ked up’ he’ll be happy with the action,” noted the FBI in its affidavit. Wright also expressed concern that the man who sold him the C4 was a police officer, but he continued on with the plot regardless.
The Bureau stressed there was never any danger to the public because the explosives were inert and under control by the undercover agent. Yet Special Agent Stephen D. Anthony, who oversees the FBI’s Cleveland division, illuminated the group’s grand ambitions. “The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views,” he said. “The Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to be vigilant in its efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international.”
The group initially aroused suspicion last October 21st, when the FBI learned that some “self-described anarchists” would be attending a “Cleveland protest.” The protest taking place in Cleveland on that day was yet another OWS demonstration, during which approximately a dozen people were arrested.
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