BALTIMORE, M.D. (WGHP) — Two people, one of them a neo-Nazi leader who had previously been convicted for stockpiling explosives in an apartment, have been charged in a plot to attack multiple substations in Maryland.
Reuters reports that Brandon Russell and Sarah Clendaniel were taken into custody last week, per FBI and Maryland District Attorney officials.
Russell is one of the founders of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center says is trying to “usher in the collapse of civilization.”
The FBI called Russell and Clendaniel “ethnically motivated extremists,” who were “taking steps to fulfill their threats,” according to CBS Baltimore.
Russell, of Orlando, Florida, served prison time after being convicted of unlawful storage of explosive material in 2018. He was initially sentenced to five years in prison.
A criminal complaint obtained by Politico states that the two believed that attacking five substations in the Baltimore area would spark “cascading failures” around the city and would ultimately “destroy the whole city,” according to alleged conversations between Clendaniel and an informant.
Political says that the FBI stated that they don’t have “any indication” if Russell or Clendaniel’s plans were connected to any other substation attacks or plots, which have seen a 72% increase, according to a Business Insider report.
Russell is not the first neo-Nazi to be charged in connection to alleged plots against electrical infrastructure, and court documents allege they discussed the Moore County power grid attack at length while making their plans.
In 2020, five men were indicted for plotting to attack substations in the Boise, Idaho area, using weapons and intelligence that had been stockpiled while at least two of them were stationed at Camp Lejeune.
In February of 2022, three men pleaded guilty to conspiring to attack substations and are awaiting sentencing.
The FBI is still seeking information about the shooting of multiple North Carolina substations: two in Moore County and one in Randolph County. They are also investigating the “vandalism” of a substation in Jones County.
North Carolina lawmakers are considering legislation to stiffen penalties for these types of attacks.
Two banners with neo-Nazi insignias and slogans were seen in Moore County in December, though the sheriff’s office is treating that as a separate investigation from the substations. The banners advertised the Telegram channel of the National Socialist Resistance Front, which is described by RawStory as an Atomwaffen Division offshoot.