How Angry Racists Plotted to Kill Somali Refugees in Kansas

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

So many Trump supporters fear that our country is allegedly being overrun with Muslims who are recruiting terrorists intent on killing Americans, and that the U.S. government doesn’t care, yet some of these white working class men who fear Islamic radicalization have become radicalized themselves.

In Garden City, Kansas, a group of self-described crusaders got fed up with the way their town and country was seemingly being infiltrated with Muslims, who they disparagingly called “cockroaches.” These men decided they needed to draw the proverbial line somewhere, so they formed a group and a plan: to blow up a place of worship and kill the peaceful Somali refugees who’d taken up residence in this small rural town and worked at the local meat-processing facilities. For New York magazine, Jessica Pressler spent time in Kansas piecing together these criminals’ stories, their rage, their plan of attack, and arrest.

Now Stein was paying attention. Back in his trailer, he developed a new addiction: content produced by right-wing media outlets, whose outrage matched his own. Stein was a fan of Fox News, and when this corporate entity failed to provide the high of extreme indignation, there were news sites like Breitbart, Infowars, and Reddit, plus Veterans Today, JewsNews, et. al, which Stein, whose mind was already addled by the information he’d mainlined elsewhere, took to be purveyors of the “real” truth. Among the things he came to believe: that the U.N. had built secret tunnels underneath all of the country’s Walmarts that linked to underground military bases. That there were Chinese troops lined up at the Mexican border readying to launch a communist invasion. That Cuba was going to invade Florida. “Been telling people for years it was all a hoax,” he wrote above a headline he posted on Facebook: “Sandy Hook Redux: Obama Officials Confirm That It Was A Drill and No Children Died.”

The nucleus of Stein’s rage was, of course, Barack Obama. “We are literally being run by a terrorist organization at the highest level, being the Oval Office,” Stein told people in the militia he joined during the president’s second term. “He is their leader. Their organization is called the Muslim Brotherhood, and of course it filters down through every other department and branch of the federal government.”

The Southwest Kansas Three Percent was a part of the Three Percenter movement, founded after Obama’s election by Chris Hill, a Georgia-based former Marine who goes by the name General Bloodagent. The group is named for what he claims is the actual percentage of Colonists said to have taken up arms against the British in the Revolutionary War (this figure is disputed by historians). Of its members’ many and varied fears, in early 2016, it was “radical Islam,” as Donald Trump was calling it, that perhaps loomed the largest. Down in Georgia, Hill’s Three Percenters had led an armed protest of a planned mosque, and a Kansas branch threatened to do the same thing when the Islamic Society of Wichita invited the sheikh Monzer Taleb to speak. They hadn’t had to — the event was canceled after then–U. S. representative Mike Pompeo warned the Society’s leaders that if they went ahead with the event, “they will be responsible for the damage.” Still, many of the militia’s members didn’t feel like their government was doing enough to protect them from the rising tide of fundamentalism. “Hell, it’s even getting down into the local governments now,” Stein pointed out. “It’s at the point where it’s got to be stopped or there is going to be no stopping it.”

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