Why the five would-be Cleveland terrorists are far from "fringe" elements of OWS.
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.
Pure coincidence? The aforementioned media spokesman for OWS Cleveland, who admitted the men attended group events, insisted that they "weren't affiliated with or representing the group." Yet it is being reported by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that Brandon Baxter "had for months attended Occupy Cleveland protests, actions and [had been] sitting at the group's tent on Public Square," and that he was also arrested with other movement members. Breitbart.com is reporting that Anthony Hayne "was organizing the information session" for the October 21st Cleveland protest. And three men named, Brandon Baxter, Anthony Hayne and Joshua Stafford, appear to have Facebook accounts listing #OccupyCleveland as their occupation or place of employment. Facebook photographs picturing two of the men look exactly like those of the plotters posted by the FBI, although whether or not those Facebook accounts belong to the suspects remains unconfirmed.
Perhaps most tellingly, the Cleveland OWS May Day rally was cancelled following news of the arrest. OWS Cleveland released a statement claiming the cancellation was due to “the alleged actions of the autonomous group arrested [Monday] night,” adding that “Occupy Cleveland has ... affirmed principles of non-violence since its inception on October 6, 2011.”
Yet the cancellation raises an obvious question: if the would-be bombers had no real association with OWS Cleveland, then why cancel the protest?
Debbie Kline of Jobs with Justice claimed it would have been in "bad taste" to go on with OWS Cleveland's plans to "occupy" the GE Lighting building. She then inadvertently offered the ultimate rationale for dismissing all of the despicable behavior that's been associated with the OWS movement. "When you're in a movement, you can't kick people out when they are volunteers," she contended. "These five were acting on their own, they didn't have any part of the greater movement. There are ‘fringey’ people all over the place," she added.
It's a rather large "fringe." From the movement's beginning in New York City on September 24, 2011, through April 26, 2012, there have been 6,990 documented arrests in 114 cities across the nation directly associated with the OWS movement. Yesterday, protests yet again turned violent in Oakland and Seattle. In San Francisco, cars and property were vandalized Monday night.
And now in Cleveland, a domestic terror plot was hatched, aimed at inflicting al-Qaeda-like casualties Americans.
OWS can attempt to disavow connection with such a plot, but thousands of arrests in hundreds of cities, coupled with instances of anti-semitism, sexual assaults (including rape), vandalism, and even murder can hardly be attributed solely to "fringe" or "rogue" elements "hijacking" an otherwise peaceful movement. The OWS movement's reason for existence is to disrupt the normal course of everyday life at every opportunity and to turn "one percent" of Americans into literal enemies of the nation. The notion that they can accomplish such objectives, especially the latter one, "non-violently" is ludicrous. The bomb plotters did nothing more than engage in ideological one-upmanship. They followed the logical progression of a movement dedicated, despite all their faux high-mindedness, to one over-riding idea: Us against them.
It is a template tailor-made for the kind of trajectory that leads directly from bombast to bombings.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.