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FBI: Ohio Man Planned to Detonate Pipe Bombs at Capitol

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., walks behind an armored Capitol Police truck as the House wraps up votes for the week Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., walks behind an armored Capitol Police truck as the House wraps up votes for the week Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

FBI agents announced Wednesday they had foiled a Cincinnati-area man’s plot to wage a jihadi attack the Capitol, arresting a 20-year-old who allegedly considered members of Congress his enemies.  

Christopher Lee Cornell, of Green Township, Ohio, was charged in a criminal complaint with attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States in a plan that involved building and detonating pipe bombs at and near the Capitol, then shooting employees and officials. Agents arrested Cornell on Wednesday after he purchased two semi-automatic rifles and approximately 600 rounds of ammunition, with the plan to travel to Washington, D.C. He was also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.  

Capitol Police worked in coordination with the FBI on the case, Lt. Kimberly Schneider said in an email.  

In the summer of 2014, Cornell allegedly established Twitter accounts under the alias Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, which he used to post statements, videos and other content supporting the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and violent jihad.  

The FBI learned about Cornell in August from an informant, who began communicating with Cornell and learned he was in touch with overseas sources and seeking authorization to conduct a terrorist attack in the U.S.  

According to the documents, Cornell stated, “I believe we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything.” He also suggested the two meet up “and make our own group in alliance with the Islamic State here and plan operations ourselves.”  

Cornell met with the informant in October, and allegedly said he needed weapons and wanted to “move” in December, but didn’t reveal the specifics of the plan. Cornell also shared information about how to build bombs. At a subsequent meeting in November, he revealed more details and showed the informant that he had researched targeted buildings in D.C.  

On Jan. 13, Cornell allegedly took the final steps necessary to plan his travel. He was arrested after buying the firearm. The criminal complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.  

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