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Federal officials arrested a man for his terrorist plot to detonate a bomb near a bank in downtown Oklahoma City early Saturday morning.
ABC News reports that undercover agents — who began their months-long investigation of 23-year-old Jerry Varnell after an informant tipped the FBI off to his plan — met with the suspect in June, where he revealed himself to be a member of the Three Percenters, an anti-government extremist group that grew in response to Barack Obama’s presidency.
An FBI agent posed as someone who could help Varnell build a bomb. Varnell helped assemble the device, loaded it into what he believed was a stolen van, and dialed a number on a cell phone that he believed would trigger an explosion shortly after midnight on Saturday. The device was inert, however, and officers arrested Varnell shortly before 1:00 am.
In texts with the FBI informant, Varnell stated “I’m out for blood. When militias start getting formed I’m going after government officials when I have a team.”
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
The failed plot came on the heels of a White supremacist-led vigil that terrorized Charlottesville, Virginia residents Friday night as part of a Unite the Right rally.
The two-day rally, which organizer Jason Kessler assembled to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and other Confederate monuments, descended to melee as participants brutally assaulted counter protesters.
In an act that appears premeditated, according to Charlottesville police, motorist James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of counter protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.
The rally, and Varnell’s attempted domestic terrorist plot in the same weekend, raise fears that this is only the beginning of extreme racist violence under the Trump Presidency, as neither Trump nor members of his administration took swift action to denounce the acts and lend order to the chaos.
Varnell faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.