'Occupy' anarchists arrested for 'plotting to blow up Ohio bridge' after months of FBI surveillance

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 10:13 EST, 1 May 2012


Five men, at lease three of them self-described anarchists, have been arrested in an alleged plot to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, the FBI said today.

A member of Occupy Cleveland revealed that at least some of the suspects had attended the group's events, sparking concerns that some supporters of the anti-capitalist movement could turn to violence.

But there was no danger to the public in the bridge-bombing plot because the explosive devices were inoperable and were controlled by an undercover FBI employee, the agency said.

The target of the plot was Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, which carries a four-lane highway over part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the Brecksville area, about 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland, the FBI said.

Authorities said three of the men were arrested Monday and are self-described anarchists, not tied to international terrorism.

It was not immediately clear whether the men had attorneys. All of the suspects, ranging in age from 20 to 35, were expected to appear in federal court this afternoon.

The FBI said three were arrested on charges of conspiracy and trying to use explosives to damage property affecting interstate commerce. They were identified as Brandon L. Baxter, 20; Douglas L. Wright, 26; and Anthony Hayne, 35. Their hometowns were not provided.

Charges were pending against the other two men, who have been identified as Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23.
Occupy Cleveland media coordinator Jacob Wagner said some group members knew the suspects, but added that the protest group had no knowledge of the alleged plan to blow up the bridge and would denounce such actions.

'Occupy Cleveland has, from the very start, espoused peaceful, nonviolent, direct action,' he said. 'These alleged actions taken by these people were completely autonomous.'

The announcement of the arrests came as Occupy demonstrators in other states joined protests marking International Workers Day, or May Day, today.

Baxter, Wright and Hayne allegedly considered different plots over several months, including distracting law enforcement with smoke grenades while trying to bring down financial institution signs in downtown Cleveland.

They even considered setting off a car bomb outside the Federal Reserve Bank there, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed on Tuesday.

They also plotted an attack on a center where federal, state and local authorities coordinate operations and resources, known as a fusion center.
The group initially came under scrutiny by authorities in October 2011 when the FBI learned that some self-described anarchists planned to attend a protest in Cleveland.

An FBI informant saw four of the men going through the crowd expressing displeasure at demonstrators' unwillingness to engage in violent acts. The men wore masks and carried walkie-talkies, according to the affidavit.
Over the next several months, the group considered a variety of targets for attacks including the Group of 8 leaders meeting in Chicago and the Republican National Convention in Tampa, according to the FBI affidavit.
Late last month, the defendants finally settled on blowing up the bridge, authorities said.
Wright told a confidential source working with the FBI that 'as long as stuff "gets f--ked up" he'll be happy with the action,' the FBI said in its affidavit filed with the court.
At one point, Wright expressed concern that the undercover FBI agent who sold them what they believed was powerful C-4 explosives for $900 was a police officer, but he continued with the plot.

'The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views,' Special Agent Stephen D. Anthony, who oversees the FBI's Cleveland division, said in a statement.

'The Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to be vigilant in its efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international.'
The group had no ties to foreign terrorist organizations and the plot was not connected to the anniversary of the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a raid by U.S. forces a year ago, a U.S. Justice Department official said today.
The undercover operation is the latest of a number of sting operations undertaken by the FBI and Justice Department in an effort to thwart attacks by domestic and foreign militants.

Read more: Cleveland Bridge bomb plot: 'Occupy' anarchists arrested for 'plotting to blow up Ohio bridge' | Mail Online