The United States Capitol remains unharmed today after Ohio FBI authorities apprehended a suspected ISIS sympathizer on Wednesday, as he allegedly moved to put terrorist plans into action after months of talking about his purported jihadist inspirations and intentions on social media. The official complaint against Christopher Lee Cornell, the alleged terrorist, details a pattern over several months of plotting and strategizing to plant explosives at the Capitol Building and gun down fleeing government leaders as they ran from the explosion. Cornell supposedly was in the final stages of the plan to journey to D.C. in order to carry out the attack but agents arrested him near a gun store and shooting range in possession of 600 ammunition rounds and a couple of semi-automatic rifles to go with them.
Upon taking Cornell into custody, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI notified law enforcement officials nationwide. They believe that the types of activities in which the suspect is accused of participating represent a significant threat to U.S. interests. Therefore, they emphasize the importance of keeping a vigilant watch for foreign support of homegrown militant extremists with ties to ISIS and other terrorist organizations in order to keep the public unharmed. Although the FBI thwarted this planned attack on the United States Capitol, it highlights the penchant for disciples of intimidation inspired by the militant extremism of terrorist organizations to advertise their plans and intentions via social media in English.
Twenty-year old Cornell of Ohio made contact with an undercover informant last summer who provided authorities with details of his interactions with the suspect, who, as a recent convert to Islam, also calls himself Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah. Under this alias, he registered for a Twitter account posting multiple messages expressing empathy with terrorist plans for jihad and a desire to conduct his own jihad in the United States Capitol, with or without the support of foreign leaders. The FBI agent who authored the legal complaint against Cornell documents how the suspect worked with the informant over several months, revealing much of his strategy, including that he believed the Congressional leaders were his enemies and even planning advance reconnaissance to get a feel for the layout of the United States Capitol buildings before finalizing plans for the attack.
Cornell’s parents, John and Angel Carmen, have difficulty believing that their son could be capable of such violent intent. Although admitting that the suspect seemed to be having trouble launching himself into independence and a career and made no secret about the fact that he did not trust the media or the government, they had attributed recent positive changes in his attitude and activities around the house to finding peace in his newfound practice of Islam. They thought he was saving up for a car so they are stunned and shocked by the news. They characterize him as a peace-lover and feel that he was tricked or coerced into much of the allegedly intended violence at the United States Capitol of which he is accused. Although officials cannot confirm any conclusive links between Cornell and foreign terrorist leaders, security measures against homegrown radical terrorist sympathizers acting on their own have put authorities on high alert.
Nonetheless, today the United States Capitol and the legislators who work there stand unharmed by the allegedly ISIS-inspired terrorist plot to explode pipe bombs and open fire on the escaping legislators. Michael Steel, speaking on behalf of Speaker of the House John Boehner, himself recently a target of a murder attempt, acknowledges that Congress owes many thanks to the FBI for keeping them safe once again. Acting special agent in charge at the Cincinnati FBI office, John Barrios assures the public that there was never any public danger. Although he never made it as far as the United States Capitol, Cornell is charged with attempting to kill a U.S. government official and possession of a firearm with the intent to commit a violent crime.
By Tamara Christine Van Hooser
FOX News: Criminal Complaint
ABC News: Ohio Man Arrested
FOX News: ISIS Sympathizer
ABC News: Parents of Terror Defendant
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