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szdaily -> Person of the week
Mama’s boy arrested for allegedly planning attack on U.S. Capitol
     2015-January-16  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    An alleged sympathizer of the Islamic State terror group was arrested in Ohio on Wednesday after authorities learned that he was plotting a shooting and bombing attack on the U.S. Capitol.

        FOR months, 20-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell had been on the FBI’s radar. Authorities said he made alarming posts on social media, talking about violent jihad.

    On Wednesday, agents arrested the man from Cincinnati, Ohio, who ostensibly tweeted under the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, before he could put his alleged plot into action.

    It was simple, similar to the Paris attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, but at a key location — the U.S. Capitol, said a criminal complaint filed by an FBI agent.

    The plan: Set off pipe bombs to put lawmakers and employees in panicked flight then gun them down with an assault rifle as they ran across his path and that of an accomplice, Special Agent T.A. Staderman wrote.

    Christopher was ready to go, the agent said.

    He had made extensive plans with a partner. He had researched bomb-making instructions and by Wednesday, Christopher had bought two M-15 rifles with 600 rounds of ammunition.

    But the man Christopher believed was his partner was in reality an FBI informant, a man in trouble with the law who worked with the agency to improve his legal standing.

    When they found out Christopher had the weapons, authorities made their move before Christopher could.

    Around lunchtime, more than a dozen agents and local police stood at his parents’ house, where he lived.

    “We heard a pound on the door,” John Cornell, Christopher’s father, told reporters. Had he not opened it, they would have battered it in with a ram, he said.

    He had no idea why they were there, and the officers wouldn’t tell him, he said. “They just told us they had a search warrant.”

    They took the whole family in for questioning. “Where is my son; what is he being charged with?” John Cornell wanted to know.

    “They wouldn’t tell us anything,” he said.

    In the fall, the informant told the FBI about someone he had been in touch with via Twitter, the criminal complaint said.

    At the end of August, Christopher had allegedly written him an instant message saying the two of them should carry out a lone wolf attack as a way of supporting ISIS.

    He didn’t think ISIS or al-Qaida would give them official sign-off, but he felt he didn’t need it.

    “...we already got a thumbs up from the Brothers over there and Anwar al-Awlaki before his martyrdom and many others,” Christopher allegedly wrote.

    Al-Awlaki was a U.S.-born radical cleric associated with Yemen’s al-Qaida arm, and he seems to have continued influence on would-be terrorists around the world. He was killed in a drone attack in 2011.

    Christopher allegedly told the informer that he had been in contact with persons overseas, and that he had aligned himself with ISIS. And he grew closer to the informant.

    “I believe we should meet up and make our own group in alliance with the Islamic State here and plan operations ourselves,” Christopher allegedly messaged him.

    The two met twice in person in Cincinnati, the complaint said — two days in October and two in November. Christopher researched how to build pipe bombs and saved up money to buy weapons and ammunition, the complaint read.

    His father casts doubt on some aspects of the purchase. Christopher was unemployed and worked only seasonally for minimum wage. He was about US$500 short of the money needed to make the purchase on his own.

    “He had US$1,287 saved up. These guns cost over US$1,700,” John Cornell said. He thinks someone else had to make up the difference and blames the FBI and thinks his son was pushed into the plan.

    Christopher wanted to “move” on the plans in December, the complaint said. He and the informant posing as his partner were to travel to the Capitol, scout out the location then detonate the bombs and open fire.

    In middle school and high school, Christopher had been a wrestler, his father said. After graduation, he lived at home and was unemployed, not yet knowing what he wanted to do. “He very seldom left the house,” John Cornell said.

    Christopher was a “momma’s boy who never left the house,” John Cornell said.

    Christopher attended Masjid Abue Baker Siddikue mosque on Harrison Avenue in South Fairmount, his parents said, adding he “found peace in the religion.”

    “Everything you’re hearing in the media right now, they’ve already painted him as some kind of terrorist,” John Cornell said. ... “They’ve painted him as some kind of jihadist. ... (Christopher) is one of the most peace-loving people I know.”

    Christopher still had a room in the family home – an apartment at 6553 Hearne Road – that he came back to every day.

    John Cornell sat up from a living room sofa and angrily described the abuse his son faced as a practicing Muslim. Christopher’s long beard and traditional Muslim head dress made him an easy target, John Cornell said.

    “We always see the looks people give my son,” John Cornell said. “One time, he was just walking across the street to the store and people driving by threw (objects) at him. Hey, that’s my son and I love him just the same.”

    John Cornell also told of some of Christopher’s interpretations of his faith as a practicing Muslim. For instance, Christopher did not support gay marriage because of his religion, John Cornell said, and he likely offended his peers when speaking on the subject of religion.

    John Cornell said he told Christopher to never speak of religion or politics in public, adding he still loves his son despite Wednesday’s federal charges and his son’s apparent outspoken nature.

    Christopher made a friend on the Internet, his father believes, and posted comments in defense of Muslims.

    “Chris may have said some things out of anger,” John Cornell said. But he has a hard time believing he encouraged armed jihad.

    His son stayed out with a friend once for two hours.

    “I asked him where he had been. He said that he had went to a mosque,” John Cornell said.

    Then Christopher moved out quietly. “I never saw him leave,” his father said.

    His son left him a note in his former bedroom. It said he had decided to move in with a friend, who had also offered him some work.

    Since his son’s arrest, he says he and his wife have not heard anything from officials about where Christopher is. They say they love their son more than ever, and that they are heartbroken.

    “He may be facing life in prison,” John Cornell said. “Do you know how devastating that is?”(SD-Agencies)

 

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