Prosecutors charged Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick
Eugene Stein each with conspiring to use a weapon of mass
destruction in Garden City, Kansas, and conspiring to deny
others' civil rights. Wright also faces weapons-related charges
and Stein is charged with lying to the FBI.
Officials have said the men, who face life in prison if
convicted, were members of a militia group.
The defendants, all white men, pleaded not guilty after they
were indicted in October 2016. Defense attorneys said Thursday
their clients were entrapped by the federal government.
"Defendants wanted to plant the message Muslims are not welcomed
here - not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America,"
prosecutor Risa Berkower said in opening statements of the trial
in federal court in Wichita, Kansas.
Berkower said the men were members of the Kansas Security Force,
which she described as a militia group. They had formed a
splinter group known as "the Crusaders" to "kill as many Muslims
as they could" and "to make Muslims uncomfortable in this
country," she added.
The defendants had tried unsuccessfully to recruit other militia
members to join them, Berkower said. One of the men who had been
approached told the FBI of the plan, she said.
However, the attorney for Stein, James Pratt, said federal
agents took advantage of his client.
"Patrick Stein at times has allowed his prejudice and hate to
consume him," Pratt said in his opening statement. "The federal
government saw an opportunity to exploit Patrick Stein's fears."
He also said the FBI's informant was the one providing maps and
aerial views of the apartment complex and all of those were
ultimately supplied by the FBI.
"The FBI created and directed all of this," said Richard
Federico, the attorney for Allen.
Federal, state and local authorities investigated the plot for
eight months as the three conducted surveillance and stockpiled
guns and explosives in preparation for bombing an apartment
complex where 120 people lived including the Somalians,
according to the charges.
The men intended to park a vehicle at each corner of the
apartment complex and detonate them, according to the charges.
Garden City is a town of about 27,000 people in southwestern
Allen and Wright are from Liberal, Kansas, and Stein is from
(Reporting by Alice Mannette; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by
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