Christopher Cook, Jackson Sawall and Jonathan Frost plead guilty to conspiring to attack the US power grid for white supremacy

Three men who plotted to attack the power grid beg for guilt

The US Department of Justice has uncovered a plot to hack major power networks to support white extremist ideology (pictured via Getty Images)

Three men pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists after authorities learned of their plans to attack power grids around the country. US Department of Justice.

Christopher Cook20 years old in Columbus, Ohio; Jackson Sawall, 22 years old, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; and Jonathan FrostThe 24-year-old, of Katy, Texas and West Lafayette, Indiana now faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The men believe these attacks will help aid the rise of white supremacy by creating “confusion” and “unrest” among Americans when the government does work to rebuild and restore damaged power grids, according to court documents filed with the United States Southern District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Those documents say that the three men believed this would be an ideal environment for the rise of a white leader.

The plan is to attack substations or power grids with powerful rifles that can penetrate transformers, which members of the group estimate will cost the government millions of dollars to restore. Additionally, the defendants believe that the time involved in substituting the substations will cause embarrassment and instability for Americans in the region. There are also conversations about how the possibility that a power outage for months could cause some serious change or break out to war, even race war; Also, without power across the country, it could cause the next Great Recession, people won’t come to work, the economy could collapse, and there will be a ripe opportunity for leaders. potential leader (white) rise up. One topic of group discussions revolved around the need to create chaos to bring the system down, which would make people doubt the system and create a real revolutionary force against the system.

Cook and Frost began planning these attacks in 2019 after meeting in a chat room, according to a statement of events included in all three men’s plea agreements. Frost, who was the first to “share the idea of ​​hitting the grid,” focuses on logistics. Cook worked to recruit new members.

As part of the hiring process, COOKs often ask a lot of questions about literature; COOK even circulated a list of books that suggested, if not requested, reads promoting white supremacy and neo-Nazis, including titles like “A Squires” [sic] Test “and” Enclosure. “The siege focuses on gaining power through violence rather than political means. COOK also looks for younger recruits who believe it’s less likely that those people are members of law enforcement. the law.

Sawall, a close friend of Cook’s according to court records, joined the assignment in late 2019. He began assisting Cook in recruiting new individuals and, according to court documents, helped expand the operation. by creating chat groups to further the cause of the three. men.

SAWALL is also responsible for the online propaganda chat group, “Front”, which serves to aid recruitment and will eventually claim responsibility for the attacks. Those who passed the first screening were invited to join an online chat group titled, “Lights Out”. With this group, COOK shared plans via text to participate in large-scale blackouts by hitting the US Power Grid, including a link to a US Department of Energy report that contained titled, “Large Power Transformers and the U.S. Grid,” discussed grid-specific information and timely major transformer replacement issues.

The group eventually grew to have five members, including one juvenile, according to the statement of truth. The plan was for the men to target a substation in a different part of the country (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, and Southwest) using the AR-47 rifle. that Forst is building. These spooky rifles won’t have serial numbers, and in February 2020 Frost traveled from Indiana to Ohio so he could give Cook one of these rifles and the men could Test weapons at a shooting range according to court documents.

That same month, Frost provided the men with another lethal weapon, as claimed by truth.

In the “Lights On” chat group, COOK, FROST, SAWALL and others also discussed purchasing necklaces containing a lethal substance that could be ingested if and when they were caught by law enforcement. catch red-handed. In the end, FROST purchased the materials needed to make the suicide necklace online, which he filled with Fentanyl. At least once, both COOK and SAWALL expressed a mortal commitment to carry out their mission. In February 2020, FROST finally supplied the line to COOK and SAWALL during their meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

At one point during this meeting in Ohio, Sawall and Cook “purchased spray paint and painted a swastika flag under a bridge at a park with the caption, ‘Join the Front. ”” Planned a number of similar stunts to promote white men and neo-Nazi However, the -Nazi ideologies were soon derailed due to a series of incidents.

The first problem the men encountered was when Sawall “swallowed his suicide pill and ended up surviving” after being hit by a car during a regular traffic stop. That didn’t bother the men much, according to the complaint, and they set out for Texas with plans to stop in Oklahoma to meet a potential recruit.

According to court records, that recruiter lost his phone and the person who found the device had some feelings of their own after seeing the group communication. He expressed those feelings when the men called at one point.

Instead, the person who found the phone and the Nazi propaganda on it answered their calls and told them the phone would be turned over to the police, which caused FROST and COOK to begin. destroy their online communication accounts. FROST and COOK were again intercepted by law enforcement in Texas, resulting in the discovery of small amounts of Fentanyl left on the chain as well as numerous electronic devices and phones with burners. The pair eventually made it to Katy, Texas, and met another underage recruit. During a meeting with the same individual the next day, COOK was again caught by law enforcement, observed by FROST, and the two decided to part ways. COOK goes to Jasper, Texas to stay in the home of another underage recruit.

Just a few months later, the FBI raided the homes of all three men, killing any hope that they could carry out their plot. Some of the items that agents found during those raids were detailed in the event report.

In COOK’s bedroom, agents found a copy of the “Siege” book, a cell phone used to communicate with the possessors, a tactical magazine, and a variety of coats and jackets. Different camouflage pants. Documentation of Racial Violent Extremism (RMVE) was also found in digital evidence seized from COOK. A recently purchased but unassembled rifle was also found in the pantry. In FROST’s home, agents discovered multiple firearms, including an AR15 pistol without a serial number, a suppressor, milling tools, and components. Chemicals and components found in FROST’s bedroom were consistent with someone trying to test and assemble an explosive device; In fact, later FBI lab testing confirmed that the chemicals could be used to make an explosive device. The digital evidence seized from the search revealed a large amount of documents related to the Nazi RMVE such as videos, books and photographs, detailed information on the US power structure, a related article regarding the vandalism of a power substation in California and a list of specific electrical substations, revised weapons manuals and diagrams, explosives manufacturing manuals. SAWALL’s residence revealed three memo pads containing various writings, including statements such as “The Revolution is our solution”, a notebook containing documents describing the Front, the recruitment process and oath of allegiance. SAWALL cell phones feature Front propaganda posters and “Join the Front” graffiti and COOK and SAWALL Ohio Nazi flag graffiti.

The three men have been charged with material aid to terrorism under an information bill filed on Feb. 7. A federal district court judge will now decide the sentences for each man under the law. their confession.

“The defendants in this case wanted to attack power substations in the area and expected the damage to lead to an economic crisis and civil unrest,” the Assistant Director said. Timothy Langan of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.

“These individuals want to carry out such a conspiracy because they adhere to a violent extremist view of race or ethnicity. When individuals move from espousing particular views to planning or committing acts of violence, the FBI investigates and takes action to thwart their plans. We will continue to work with law enforcement partners to protect our community. ”

Is there a trick we should know? [email protected] Christopher Cook, Jackson Sawall and Jonathan Frost plead guilty to conspiring to attack the US power grid for white supremacy

James Brien

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