A British national daily newspaper published an in-depth article this week about the foiled mosque and apartment complex bombing plot in Garden City lastt fall, sharing fears that Somali residents still feel even months after three southwest Kansas men were apprehended by FBI agents and charged with domestic terrorism.
The story also includes details about the bomb plot and the men behind it. The following is a shortened version. The Guardian's full version is available at this link.
Somali refugee Ifra Ahmed told The Guardian that after living most of her life on the run, when she arrived in Garden City, Kansas four years ago, she felt confident calling the southwest Kansas community home.
When she was two years old, Ahmed’s parents carried her from the port city of Kismayo in southern Somalia across the Kenyan border, as they fled the start of the brutal civil war. The family was in a refugee camp in Dadaab for two years after that and then moved to another camp in southern Uganda, along with 60,000 other displaced people.
During that time, she learned English and applied for permanent resettlement in the U.S., which took over a decade.
Ahmed felt safe in Garden City until last October, when federal prosecutors announced that three men affiliated with a loose national anti-government militia movement had been charged with plotting to blow up the makeshift mosque located in the Garden Spot Apartments on West Mary Street, frequented by Garden City's 500 or so Somalis, many of whom were residents of the complex.
The three men, Patrick Stein of Wright, and Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen, both of Liberal, stockpiled an arsenal of weapons, and planned to kill as many Muslims as they could in an assault they planned to carry out on the day after the election.
“I thought of having to restart all over again,” said Ahmed, who lives in the apartment complex. “I couldn’t even imagined it because I have done it so many times."
The incident received only fleeting national coverage, occurring less than a month before the presidential election.
One of the accused plotters told the Guardian that the presidential election had “encouraged” his actions, despite protesting his innocence.
“The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim,” said Patrick Stein during a conversation with his alleged co-conspirators, Wright and Allen, in July 2016.
A fourth member of the group had been secretly recording the men's activities for the FBI since February and would continue monitoring them until their arrest in October.
At Wright and Allen’s modular home business on a dusty patch of gravel in the outskirts of Liberal, Kansas, a town 60 miles from Garden City, the group – members of a statewide anti-government militia group named the Kansas Security Force (KSF) – had convened a meeting of their own sub-militia called “the Crusaders”. They were plotting targets, according to an affidavit, and pulled up an image of Garden City on Google Maps, dropping pins on locations they labeled “cockroaches”. They had decided to target Muslims in response to the Orlando terror attack that occurred the month before, the affidavit said.
“When we go on operations, there’s no leaving anyone behind, even if it’s a one-year old, I’m serious,” Stein continued. “I guarantee if I go on a mission those little fuckers are going bye-bye.”
The men prepared a manifesto to be released at the time of the attack and carried out further reconnaissance trips to Garden City.
During one such trip in February of last year, Stein had shouted “fucking raghead bitches” out of a car window towards a group of Somali women.
The FBI swooped in on Oct. 11, after Allen’s girlfriend reported him to local police for domestic assault and told officers she had seen him preparing a “white powdery substance” she believed to be explosives.
“They had an intense hatred of Muslims,” said a former senior member of the KSF who know all three men and spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity. “It was just a constant.”
The KSF formed in 2012 and had a membership of about 90 people by the time “the Crusaders” were arrested. Most were from southern and western Kansas and many were former military personnel. They mostly communicated over social media and so-called “field training” was only occasional and drew small numbers of people.
Allen, who posted on social media about his support for Donald Trump, was temporarily ejected from the militia at the end of 2014 after allegations of domestic abuse, but was allowed to rejoin about six months later, the source said.
The KSF source told the Guardian said by 2016, as the presidential race intensified, the three men’s ardent Islamophobia became more intense and had spread to other members of the militia.
“[They] were saying Islam is a plague, we need to deal with it, we need to watch it, we need to keep an eye on it. Even if I fell into it,” the source said.
All three men have pleaded not guilty to domestic terror charges and are expected to face trial this fall.