On Monday, the FBI and US Attorney's Office officials announced that they had arrested and charged 34-year-old Sarah Beth Clendaniel of Catonsville, Maryland and 27-year-old Brandon Clint Russell of Orlando, Florida with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility over an alleged plot to destroy 5 power grid substations in Maryland.
Fox News reports, the US Attorney for the District of Maryland, Erek L. Barron said, "This planned attack threatened lives and would have left thousands of Marylanders in the cold and dark. We are united and committed to using every legal means necessary to disrupt violence, including hate-fueled attacks."
Thomas J. Sobocinski, the Special Agent in Charge out of the FBI Baltimore Field Office, said, "The FBI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement and private sector partners to identify and disrupt any potential threat to the safety of our citizens."
According to an affidavit by Patrick W. Straub, a Baltimore Division Special Agent of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Clendaniel spoke to an FBI informant last week about the plan and said she was targeting five substations. She allegedly said her attacks would "completely destroy this whole city" and a "good four or five shots through the center of them" would be enough to destroy the substations.
Clendaniel was in prison for convenience store robbery when she started digitally communicating with Russel, who was in prison for possessing bomb-making materials.
Russel allegedly had "racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist beliefs" according to the affidavit and recruited Clendaniel.
He allegedly posted open-source maps to the power grid infrastructure and commented on how targeted attacks could cause "cascading failure" to Maryland's power supply.
"Clendaniel, in collaborating on a plan to carry out the attacks, conspired to secure a weapon and identified five substations she planned to target, according to court documents," reports Fox.
Clendaniel and Russel could face 20 years in federal prison if convicted of the charges.
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