KANSAS – Three men who were convicted of plotting to blow up a Kansas apartment complex where Somali refugees lived have each been sentenced to at least 25 years in prison, the Justice Department said on Friday.
“Today’s sentence is a significant victory against hate crimes and domestic terrorism,” acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a news release Friday from the Justice Department, CNN reported.
“The defendants, in this case, acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill innocent people on the basis of their religion and national origin. That’s not just illegal — it’s morally repugnant.”
Patrick Eugene Stein and Curtis Allen of Kansas and Gavin Wright of Oklahoma chose the apartment complex in Garden City, a city of 26,000, partly because it contained a mosque, authorities said.
During the trial, prosecutors said the men began plotting an attack after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida.
The men referred to Muslims as cockroaches and, in the words of prosecutors, “described in the most extreme and violent terms what they planned to do to them.”
“A confidential source, whom the government credited for thwarting the attack and saving the lives of innocent victims, recorded numerous conversations during which the defendants discussed and refined their plan,” the Justice Department said.
“As the plan solidified, the defendants discussed obtaining four vehicles, filling them with explosives, and parking them at the four corners of the apartment complex to create an explosion that would be sure to level the building and kill its occupants.”
The Somalis welcomed the sentence, saying they just want peace.
“Please, we need peace and love,” said Ifrah Farah, a member of the Somali community, according to CNN affiliate KWCH in Wichita.
“Because we came here for better lives. We are refugees. We live here. We are not bad people. We love everybody.”
The plotted attack is not the first to target Muslims in the US.
Last week, police arrested four men for plotting to bomb Islamberg, a Muslim community in rural New York.
Tuesday, Jan 22nd, came with bad news to the peaceful community after Brian Colaneri, Andrew Crysel, Vincent Vetromile, and a 16-year-old student were charged with weapons possession and conspiracy to attack Islamberg.