FBI: 5 arrested in plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge

4:00 PM, May 1, 2012   |    comments
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Video: FBI: 5 arrested in bridge plot near Cleveland

the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge


CLEVELAND (WKYC) -- The FBI says five people have been arrested in a plot to blow up the Route 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

According to a written release, Douglas L. Wright, 26,  Brandon L. Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, were arrested by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force on April 30 on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce.

The three are self-proclaimed anarchists, according to the FBI.

Charges against two other men, Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23,  are pending. 

The group purchased what they thought were explosives from an undercover agent.  They were arrested in a sting after they allegedly placed the fake explosives at the bridge.

The five were under close police surveillance.  The explosives the group allegedly purchased and allegedly attempted to use were inoperable.

The FBI says Wright, Baxter and Hayne formed into a group and beginning in October 2011 considered a series of evolving plots over several months. 

An initial plot involved using smoke grenades to distract police in order for co-conspirators to topple the signs of financial institutions on high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland.  The plot later developed into the use of explosives.

According to the FBI, the group conspired to obtain C-4 contained in two improvised explosive devises to be detonated remotely.

The FBI says the group discussed a number of targets over several months.  The FBI says the final plan targeted the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge.  The bridge crosses from Brecksville to Sagamore Hills over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

"The complaint in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot," said U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach. "The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions."

"The safety of the citizens of the Northern District of Ohio is and continues to be our primary focus. The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony. "The Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to be vigilant in its efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international."

The FBI says the plot is not tied to the one year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.  It says those arrested do not have ties to international terrorism.

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