Kansas militia members wanted to kill Muslims — prosecutor

(L to R) Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein are shown in these booking photos. (Reuters)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Kansas militia members wanted to kill Muslims — prosecutor

WICHITA, KANSAS: Three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment complex in western Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia lived and had a mosque, wanted to kill as many as possible and send a message they were not welcome in the United States, a prosecutor said on Thursday.
Prosecutors charged Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein each with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in Garden City, Kansas, and conspiring to deny others’ civil rights. Wright also faces weapons-related charges and Stein is charged with lying to the FBI.
Officials have said the men, who face life in prison if convicted, were members of a militia group.
The defendants, all white men, pleaded not guilty after they were indicted in October 2016. Defense attorneys said Thursday their clients were entrapped by the federal government.
“Defendants wanted to plant the message Muslims are not welcomed here — not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America,” prosecutor Risa Berkower said in opening statements of the trial in federal court in Wichita, Kansas.
Berkower said the men were members of the Kansas Security Force, which she described as a militia group. They had formed a splinter group known as “the Crusaders” to “kill as many Muslims as they could” and “to make Muslims uncomfortable in this country,” she added.
The defendants had tried unsuccessfully to recruit other militia members to join them, Berkower said. One of the men who had been approached told the FBI of the plan, she said.
However, the attorney for Stein, James Pratt, said federal agents took advantage of his client.
“Patrick Stein at times has allowed his prejudice and hate to consume him,” Pratt said in his opening statement. “The federal government saw an opportunity to exploit Patrick Stein’s fears.”
He also said the FBI’s informant was the one providing maps and aerial views of the apartment complex and all of those were ultimately supplied by the FBI.
“The FBI created and directed all of this,” said Richard Federico, the attorney for Allen.
Federal, state and local authorities investigated the plot for eight months as the three conducted surveillance and stockpiled guns and explosives in preparation for bombing an apartment complex where 120 people lived including the Somalians, according to the charges.
The men intended to park a vehicle at each corner of the apartment complex and detonate them, according to the charges. Garden City is a town of about 27,000 people in southwestern Kansas.
Allen and Wright are from Liberal, Kansas, and Stein is from Wright, Kansas.


Al-Shabaab captures strategic town in Somalia’s Puntland

Displaced Somali children and teenagers attend a class to learn alphabets and numbers at a makeshift school at the Badbado IDP camp in Mogadishu. (AFP)
Updated 47 min 19 sec ago
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Al-Shabaab captures strategic town in Somalia’s Puntland

  • Puntland forces ran away as we advanced to the town because they know we had taught them tough lessons before
  • Somalia has been gripped by violence and lawlessness since the toppling of Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990s

BOSASO: Somalia’s militant group Al-Shabaab has captured a small but strategic town 100 km (60 miles) south of Bosaso city in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, a military officer, Al-Shabaab and residents said on Friday.
Residents in Af Urur told Reuters that the town is now controlled by Al-Shabaab.
“When we woke up this morning, we saw many Al- Shabaab fighters controlling the town. The (Puntland military) forces had left yesterday,” Ahmed Nur told Reuters from Af Urur by phone on Friday.
Al-Shabaab wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government, expel the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force AMISOM and establish a government based on its own strict interpretation of the Shariah.
Af Urur’s position is important because the main road that links the cities of Garowe, Bosaso and Mogadishu passes nearby.
Puntland forces and Al-Shabaab have fought in the town, which has ditch defenses, several times in the past.
Mohamed Abdi, a Puntland military officer, told Reuters Al-Shabaab had taken Af Urur town by Friday morning, adding without elaborating that only a few Puntland military forces had been in the town on Thursday evening. “We were supposed to be replaced by other forces,” Abdi said. “We shall recapture the town from Al-Shabaab.”
Al-Shabaab confirmed that they had control of the town.
“Puntland forces ran away as we advanced to the town because they know we had taught them tough lessons before,” Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters on Friday. “We now peacefully control Af Urur town.”
Somalia has been gripped by violence and lawlessness since the toppling of Mohamed Siad Barre in the early 1990s.
Puntland is bordered by Somaliland to its west, the Gulf of Aden in the north, the Guardafui Channel in the east, the central Galmudug region in the south and Ethiopia in the southwest.
It has a long coastline, which is abundant with fish and other natural marine resources. Puntland has the lowest rate of poverty in Somalia.