Americans can only hope that all terrorists are so dense.
The FBI revealed in a press conference yesterday that the five "Occu-bombers" arrested Monday in Cleveland had placed what they thought were explosive devices on the concrete pillar of the Northfield High Level Bridge bridge in Cleveland. The five allegedly attempted to remotely detonate two bombs -- actually fakes provided by the FBI -- before they were arrested.
Douglas Wright, 26, Brandon Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, Connor Stevens, and Joshua Stafford have been charged with "conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce."
From left are Brandon Baxter, Anthony Hayne, Joshua Stafford, Connor Stevens and Douglas Wright. (AP photo/ FBI)
Here is the story, as told by the FBI affidavit:
The informant met a group of four men at an Occupy protest rally held on October 21, 2011. They were wearing black clothes, handkerchief masks, and walkie-talkies around their necks.
At one point during the rally, organizers explained that the protest would be peaceful, one of the men said "f---k that," and walked away with three of his friends. It was then that the FBI informant approached the group as a fellow anarchist, who was interested in joining their group.
After he joined the group, the team began plotting to destroy property in order to send a message to the United States Government and major corporations.
The team's search for weapons began with the Anarchist Cookbook, an online terror manual featuring recipes for explosives that can be made with everyday items.
The group was careful to avoid being tracked online. They began by making plans to purchase a $15 program that "keeps people from tracking you on the internet." They began buying online debit cards that couldn't be tracked and using anonymous emails and encrypted "Hushmail" accounts.
Once they obtained the Cookbook, they delightedly moved forward.
"We can make smoke bombs, we can make plastic explosives, we can make, like, we can -- it teaches you how to pick locks. It does everything," Wright said with a laugh.
Wright then began instructing the informant to start gathering bleach for their homemade bombs. "You can make plastic explosives with bleach. That's actually what they used to use during like World War ll, World War I for like land mines and hand grenades and stuff. They use bleach," Wright said, according to the affidavit.
"What makes it blow up?" asked the skeptical informant.
"I'm not even sure but that's, that's what you make it out of is bleach," Wright said. "They teach you how to make all this stuff out of simple household items so that way you don't go get all this stuff and then people are looking at you like 'What are you doing?'"
The team then began talking about what they would need to blow up a bridge. "Taking out a bridge in the business district would cost the corporate big wigs a lot of money not just because of structural damage to the bridge but because it's going to stop a lot of people going to work," said Baxter during the meeting.
The team began shopping and purchasing riot gear, tear gas, ballistic vests, batons and gas masks before comparing the cost and quality of C4 with the bombs they could make themselves using the Anarchist Cookbook.
On April 1, 2012, Wright and the informant met with an explosives dealer -- actually an undercover FBI explosives expert -- to purchase C4. After the explosives expert offered to sell them two blocks of C4 for $75, Wright negotiated to purchase eight bricks for $50 apiece, because he was uncertain that two bricks would be enough.
Wright told the explosives expert that he could pay for the items with his carpentry skills or by transporting materials for him. He also told the expert that he could pay him by borrowing money from friends and selling marijuana and cocaine.
After they left, Wright was elated that it appeared they would get real explosives, although he had never used them before. "All we got to do is get away and push the button," he said.
Once they knew they were getting C4, the team began talking about other targets they could hit. They discussed blowing up a KKK or a neo-Nazi headquarters in Ohio, suggesting it would be seen as better by the public and the media than blowing up a bridge.
The affidavit says that Baxter at first did not like the idea of a bridge attack, at least originally:
Baxter advised he was really thinking that taking out a bridge was a good plan, but did not think the media would portray that in a good way ... Baxter advised it would not stop money flowing to the "One Percent," and that blowing up a bridge would just piss off the people who take the bridge every day.
The team then discussed alternative uses of the C4 -- derailing a train on a railroad bridge, blowing up mines or oil wells, or getting a car so they could blow up a Federal Reserve Bank. Wright joked that he would wear a suicide vest, but would have to be really drunk to do that, and the team agreed that it was more important to live and fight another day.
The team also seriously considered blowing up a Fusion Center - a complex where Federal, State, and Federal law enforcement share resources. Another idea was to blow a hole in a cargo ship in the Cuyahoga river. The affidavit notes that they were comfortable with the ship plot because they had heard that C4 works underwater.
As the conversation grew more serious, they started talking about what would happen if they got caught. Baxter said they would go to Guantanamo Bay. To avoid this, they discussed various "Spy Hunter" methods of getting away and covering their tracks -- throwing tacks out of the car to puncture police tires, spraying a glare coating on their license plate, getting fake plates until they made it out of state, and burning their clothes.
Eventually they agreed target the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, as Wright admitted as long as stuff "gets f-ed up" he would be happy.
Wright also predicted that the action would start a chain reaction of rioting and destruction in major cities
Wright stated that Chicago is the main place they were worried about having the protective gear because there is no telling what they might have to use there. He said it will be crazy in Cleveland, but crazier in Chicago with people coming from everywhere to Chicago to protest the NATO summit. WRIGHT predicted a "load" of people going to Chicago will be coming to Cleveland first and it will be "off the hook" here ... for a week, then everyone will leave and downtown Cleveland will "be a pile of rubble and ashes," as anarchists in every major city in the country will ultimately be "rioting and destroying each city."
Three of the alleged conspirators showed up for the meeting in Cleveland to purchase the explosives. They were very cautious. For example, they noticed an alarm clock in the room, and feared that it might contain a recording device. So of course, they placed it in the trash can and turned on the TV and air conditioning. The affidavit also notes that "the three subjects all wore latex gloves."
The undercover agent brought two fake IED's to the meeting and explained to the group how to use it, repeating himself in the process.
"You don't have to explain it again, I have a photographic memory," Hayne interrupted.
After the exchange took place, the affidavit says, Wright boasted that he actually thought they would be arrested after the money changed hands, and agreed with the informant that they wouldn't have been able to drive off with real explosives in the car.
The team made detailed plans to place the explosives the following night, and the informant returned to the FBI. The trap was set.