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.


Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

Updated 23 October 2018
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Trial starts for suspect in tourist killings in Tajikistan

  • Man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial
  • Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan: A man who swore allegiance to Daesh before killing four foreign cyclists in ex-Soviet Tajikistan went on trial Tuesday in a process closed to the public.
Tajikistan’s Supreme Court spokesperson told AFP Tuesday the trial for the “brutal murder of four foreign cyclists” had begun in the suspect’s high-security detention center.
Hussein Abdusamadov, 33, already confessed to killing American cycling tourists Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin, Dutch citizen Rene Wokke and Swiss citizen Markus Hummel in July.
The victims were struck by a car as they cycled along the remote Pamir Highway, a popular route among adventure tourists, before being set upon with knives and firearms.
Four of Abdusamadov’s accomplices were killed by police during a manhunt.
A video of the five men pledging allegiance to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was released by an official Daesh media channel.
Tajik authorities have so far ignored the video evidence, instead blaming a former opposition party — the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan — that was banned by the government in 2015.
The fact the trial is closed has raised concerns about due process in a country with a poor record on political freedoms and human rights.
Abdusamadov implicated the IRPT as the ultimate organizer of the attack in a televised confession, but critics say the government is using the case to tar the opposition.
A dozen senior members of the IRPT are serving long sentences up to life on charges government critics say are trumped up.
In addition to Abdusamadov, 16 other people stand accused of not offering information to the authorities that could have prevented the attack, a source in the police told AFP.