Agents from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Cincinnati-Dayton area of Ohio descended upon the gun store where Christopher Lee Cornell had just purchased two AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition. Agents believe Cornell, 20, intended to use that ammunition as part of a plot to bomb the United States Capitol Building.
According to the complaint filed with the courts by the FBI, agents had been monitoring online posts by someone using the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, as well as Cornell’s own Twitter handle, expressing support for ISIL and violent jihad. Those handles were also noticed in their support of violent attacks committed by others around the world. An unnamed source looking to help his own case out turned on Cornell, supplying information about the person known as Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, a.k.a. Christopher Cornell. The source reportedly knew Cornell from online conversations, and FBI have information to believe Ubaydah was Cornell’s jihadi alias. The source was originally planned to be Cornell’s partner in the attack on the Capitol.
This source told the FBI that Cornell had attempted to contact overseas persons to try to get authorization to conduct a terrorist attack in the U.S., but wanted to move ahead with his own attack. According to court documents, Cornell stated, “I believe that we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything.” He also told the source that he wanted to make their own group that would be allied with Islamic State, and believed they had the blessings of Anwar al Awlaki before he died.
Based on more discussions with the confidential source, the FBI states that Cornell had informed the source that he considered Congress to be the enemy, and he intended to attack the United States Capitol Building. The plan, according to the source, was for the two of them to build, plant, and detonate pipe bombs around the Capitol. Then, they anticipated using their weapons to shoot and kill anyone evacuating the building. Cornell is alleged to have shown the source plans and schematics on his computer for building the bombs, as well as his identification of a gun store where they could procure the weapons.
According to the affidavit, the source and Cornell discussed and began the final steps to execute this plan on January 13 and 14, 2015. Cornell traveled to the gun store on January 14, and purchased the weapons. He was arrested on January 14 right after taking possession of the guns and ammo.
Cornell’s father has a hard time believing that his son would be capable of such plans, and wonders if he is being set up by the F.B.I. Cornell had only recently converted to Islam, and had spent some time with a friend visiting a mosque. Cornell showed a level of sympathy for the Muslims dying in the Middle East. His father believed that the unemployed 20-year-old wasn’t capable of such a heinous plan. His father described him as a “momma’s boy” whose best friend was the family cat.
ABC News brings us this report:
Criminal Complaint filed with the U.S. District Court against Christopher Cornell
Unemployed Ohio man allegedly planned bomb-and-shoot attack on U.S. Capitol (CNN)
Christopher Lee Cornell: The man who allegedly plotted to attack U.S. Capitol ‘fulfilling the directives of violent jihadists’ (The Washington Post)
Ohio Man Arrested for Alleged ISIS-Inspired Plot on US Capitol, FBI Says (ABC News)