FBI: Napa man arrested with explosives may have been targeting Newsom

FBI says suspected right-wing extremist and radicalized supporter of former President Trump facing federal explosives charges may have targeted California Governor Gavin Newsom and the San Bay Area headquarters Francisco of social media giants Twitter and Facebook, according to the FBI.

Federal prosecutors have indicted Ian Benjamin Rogers, 43, of Napa County, with possession of five homemade bombs that investigators found during a search of his home and auto repair business on January 15. They also confiscated additional material for making bombs as well as 49 firearms and cartridges.

According to an FBI affidavit, Rogers made multiple threats in text messages to attack Democratic targets and ensure Trump stays in power.

In the texts, Rogers said, “Let’s see what happens, then we act” and later added, “I think the bag office is the first target” and “So maybe the bird offices and of the face.

FBI Special Agent Stephanie Minor, who is part of the agency’s domestic terror team in San Francisco, said the texts were indications of her targets.

“I believe when Rogers said, ‘Bag office first objective,’ he meant their first target should be the offices of California Governor Gavin Newsom in Sacramento. I further believe that when Rogers said that the “ bird and face ” offices would be next, he was referring to the Twitter (“ bird ”) and Facebook (“ face ”) offices, because both Social media platforms had locked Trump’s accounts to prevent it. to send messages on these platforms, ”according to the affidavit, which was issued by the office of David L. Anderson, the US district attorney for the Northern District of California.

Rogers also said in a text that he “does not go down without a fight”, according to the federal criminal complaint.

His arrest came less than two weeks after a deadly riot on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, led by far-right extremists and Trump supporters, believing the November election had been stolen from the former president by fraud, a lie promoted by Trump. During months.

Authorities in Sacramento have tightened security at the Capitol and key locations, including the governor’s home, for weeks amid the threat of attack following the controversial presidential election and violence in Washington. Thousands of National Guard soldiers were stationed in Sacramento, and access to the Capitol was limited by barricades.

For weeks since the election, pro-Trump supporters have rallied in Sacramento. Associated with these events, there have been more than a half-dozen fights between anti-fascist counter-protesters and far-right groups, including the Proud Boys.

A Newsom spokeswoman confirmed that the governor had been made aware of the allegations and was cooperating with the investigation.

“The information in the federal criminal complaint against Ian Rogers is an all too real reminder of the appalling consequences that dangerous political rhetoric can have, especially in encouraging violent extremism,” Sahar Robertson said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our democracy depends on the ability of all legislators, regardless of party affiliation, to be able to legislate and perform their duties without fear of violence.”

The homemade bombs and guns were discovered during searches of the Rogers Home and Auto Store, the UK Auto Repair in Napa Valley, by the Napa County Sheriff’s Office, Napa’s Office of Special Investigations and the FBI.

Henry Wofford, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said his agency began investigating Rogers after someone close to him reported he had weapons and “was potentially dangerous to the community. “. Wofford said sheriff’s deputies executed search warrants at Rogers’ home and office, finding weapons in both locations.

In a safe at the Rogers auto store, five homemade bombs were also found, Wofford said. In total, authorities seized 49 firearms and 15,000 cartridges. Wofford said many of these weapons were likely illegal in California, including a “very high powered machine gun.”

Federal charges against Rogers were filed Tuesday.

“We are drawing a clear line between anarchy and our constitutional freedoms. We will prosecute illegal stockpiles regardless of the offender’s motivation, ”Anderson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Napa County Dist. Atty. Allison Haley said Rogers also faces 28 felony charges in state court for possession of explosives and weapons, including possession of an illegal silencer and several unregistered assault weapons.

Haley said the homemade bombs were made of galvanized steel, had both tips and fuses, could kill a person within a 5-foot range and injure those within a 25-foot range. After his arrest, Rogers told investigators he built the homemade bombs, but said they were for entertainment purposes only, according to the affidavit.

In addition to the weapons, investigators also found what Haley described as a “backpack,” which contained weapons, ammunition, bulletproof vests, face masks and a grappling hook. Rogers is scheduled for arraignment on state charges on Jan.29. If found guilty, he faces 30 years in prison.

Hailey and the FBI said Rogers had a sticker on the bumper of his car with a badge associated with the three percent. Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, described the group as a national organization of “2nd Amendment insurgents” whose members “maintain that when the government acts tyrannically, they have a right subjective to rebellion. “

Three Percenters has also been linked with a violent plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Six men were charged in the plot and one pleaded guilty on Wednesday.

Much of the anger of right-wing anti-government militias has been directed at governors over pandemic shutdown orders which they believe constitute violations of their rights and represent an illegal overstepping of power, beliefs which have spread in online forums. During protests against pandemic-related shutdowns across California, some protesters described Newsom as a fascist for the implementation of these restrictions and regularly displayed an image of the governor as Adolf Hitler, with a slogan that reads: “end his tyranny”.

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