In another example of the growing trend of domestic terror plots targeting critical infrastructure, two men were sentenced to years in prison for their roles in a scheme to attack U.S. power stations.
The Department of Justice said Christopher Brenner Cook, 20, and Jonathan Allen Frost, 24, first met in an online chatroom largely dedicated to militant neo-Nazism, where they traded white supremacist literature and eventually began planning attacks on power stations in multiple regions of the country using rifles. The pair recruited others into their plans and met up in-person to target shoot and prepare.
Their thinking was, according to a DOJ news release, that multiple coordinated attacks on the energy and power systems of the U.S., would cause power outages and confusion in the population, which could lead to chaos and civil unrest.
“These defendants plotted armed attacks against energy facilities to stoke division in furtherance of white supremacist ideology and now they are being held accountable,” said Matthew G. Olsen, an assistant attorney general in the National Security Division.
For years, radical neo-Nazis have espoused the concept of “accelerationism” or the performance of terror attacks on society in order to hasten the collapse of central governments, leading to a so-called race war. Various racist novels and pamphlets written decades ago are circulated online in reading groups and act as models for future operations. But some groups began to put the fantasy into practise: Members of the Base, an international neo-Nazi terror group now under a nationwide FBI probe, had plotted critical infrastructure attacks on targets in Georgia and Virginia.
Cook received a seven-year plus sentence, while Frost will serve a five year sentence, both on counts of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists. Another man, Jackson Matthew Sawall, 22, pleaded guilty to the same plot but will be sentenced at a later date.
In an Ohio meeting of the group, Frost was apparently so intent on the crimes he prepared for the subsequent investigation into the plotted attacks by providing both Frost and Sawall with “suicide necklaces” containing a lethal dose of fentanyl if either were cornered by law enforcement.