A neo-Nazi planned to “destroy” Baltimore by attacking its electrical infrastructure

They wanted to “completely destroy the city” of Baltimore, the majority of whose population is African American. The co-founder of the American neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen and one of his relatives have been arrested in the United States, where they are accused of wanting to attack electrical transformers, judicial authorities announced on Monday.

Brandon Russell, 27, was arrested in Florida (southeast) and Sarah Clendaniel, 34, in the state of Maryland (east). They are both prosecuted for “conspiracy to attack energy infrastructure”, a charge punishable by 20 years in prison.

Cause “the collapse of society”

He is a figure of the American far right: he announced in 2015 the creation of the “Atomwaffen Division”, a neo-Nazi small group which advocates violent action to cause the “collapse of society”, according to the site of reference from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In 2017, his roommate and sympathizer had committed a double murder. During the search of their home, the police discovered explosives belonging to Brandon Russell, who had been sentenced to five years in prison.

During his detention, he had started chatting online with Sarah Clendaniel, herself imprisoned for attacking a convenience store with a machete. The two then remained in contact, discussing the possibility of “having children together” or leading a “guerrilla war”, according to the indictment.

“Cascading failures”

According to this document, Brandon Russell had begun to plot in June 2022, a series of attacks against electrical infrastructure intended to cause “cascading failures” in the country and had posted several plans and photos of transformers on sites. sharing.

Sarah Clendaniel had then volunteered to attack five sites in Baltimore. Suffering from an incurable disease, the young woman had explained that she wanted to “achieve something big” before dying, and had made arrangements to obtain a weapon. Kept informed by an informant, the police intervened before they took action.

US authorities warned more than a year ago of a campaign of targeted attacks on power infrastructure by far-right groups. In recent months, electrical transformers have been damaged in Ohio, North Carolina and suburban Seattle.

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