A U.S. attorney announced this afternoon domestic terrorism charges against three men stemming from a plot to attack a mosque and apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas. The following statement is by Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project:
“We are thankful that authorities were able to prevent this plot from being carried out before any people were hurt or killed. The goal of this plot was reportedly to ‘wake people up.’
“There has been an incredible increase in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment over the past few years. Anti-Muslim groups have exploited terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The presidential campaign has also produced some of the rawest nativist appeals in recent memory.
“Significantly, this anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment is increasing within the ranks of the anti-government movement. We’ve seen it in the spate of armed protests outside of mosques in Phoenix and other places last year. The U.S. attorney bringing these charges said the three suspects were members of a militia called the ‘Crusaders.’
“As the Department of Justice announced, the defendants are innocent until proven guilty. The details of the plot, however, are disturbing and should serve as a warning to those who traffic in the politics of fear and bigotry.”