By Kendall McElroy
As of Monday, Neo-Nazi couple Brandon Russell of Orlando, FL and Sarah Clendaniel of Catonsville, MA were foiled in their attempt to use assault weapons to take down Baltimore’s electrical grid.
The pair were taken into custody by the FBI and charged after Clendaniel divulged confidential information to an FBI informant about a plot to attack five substations in order to cause widespread blackouts, leaving most of Maryland in the cold and dark.
Russell has had previous run-ins with federal officials, and has been described as an avid supporter of Neo-Nazi ideology, further starting his own Nazi group referred to as Atomwaffen, and had recently got out on probation for possession of a bomb when he had met Clendaniel, the pair then collaborating on a plan to “lay waste” to Baltimore, which is known as a predominantly black city.
In a recorded conversation between Clendaniel and an FBI informant, she explained how Baltimore is surrounded in a “ring” of five substations, that if taken out, would cause cascading blackouts that “would completely destroy this whole city,” as described by Clendaniel. The couple is charged with conspiracy to destroy an energy facility.
While in this case specifically, federal officials intercepted the attack and no damage was done, it still begs the question of how dangerous rightwing extremists, specifically white supremacists and neo-Nazis, can be within the United States. This attempt follows a recent uptick in attacks on energy substations coming from domestic extremists, including an attack in North Carolina that ended with over 45,000 people without electricity for days and another conducted by two men in Tacoma, Washington on Christmas weekend.