Neo-Nazi Leader And Maryland Woman Charged with Plotting Racially Fueled Attack on Baltimore Power Grid

Sarah Clendaniel wearing tactical gear containing a swastika. Photo: DOJ

By Steve Neavling

The FBI foiled an attack by a neo-Nazi leader and his associate who planned to use assault weapons to take down electrical substations in Baltimore and “completely destroy” the entire city, the Justice Department announced Monday. 

Brandon Russell, of Orlando, Fla., and Sarah Clendaniel, of Catonsville, Md., were arrested last week and have been charged with conspiring to damage an energy facility. 

Federal officials have described Russell as a founder of a neo-Nazi group known as Atomwaffen. He was sentenced to five year in prison on explosives charges in 2018 and was released in August 2021. 

Clendaniel previously spent time in prison for armed robbery. 

According to a federal complaint, they planned to attack five electrical substations in an attempt to cause widespread blackouts. 

The idea, Clendaniel allegedly said, was to “completely destroy the whole city.”

“This alleged planned attack threatened lives and would have left thousands of Marylanders in the cold and dark,” U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland said in a statement. “We are united and committed to using every legal means necessary to disrupt violence, including hate-fueled attacks.”

This is just the latest threat from domestic extremists. 

“The threat posed by domestic violent extremists is evolving and persistent,” Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the FBI Baltimore Field Office said. “The FBI will continue to work closely with our law enforcement and private sector partners to identify and disrupt any potential threat to the safety of our citizens.”

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