Three plead guilty in plot to bomb a Muslim community in New York

The men are set to be sentenced in August

A combination of photographs released by the Greece Police Department in Greece shows (from left) Brian Colaneri, Andrew Crysel and Vincent Vetromile. AP, HO
A combination of photographs released by the Greece Police Department in Greece shows (from left) Brian Colaneri, Andrew Crysel and Vincent Vetromile. AP, HO

Three men accused of planning to bomb a New York Islamic community centre in New York state pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of criminal terrorism.

Vincent Vetromile, 20, Andrew Crysel, 19, and Brian Colaneri, 20, all pleaded guilty to charges in relation to a plot to bomb the Islamberg community centre in Delaware County.

The three were arrested in January after a pupil reported a comment made during a lunch at a local high school by a fourth suspect, 16, whose charges are still pending.

Vetromile pleaded guilty to one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree as a crime of terrorism, CNN quoted Monroe County District Attorney spokeswoman Calli Marianetti as saying.

Crysel and Colaneri pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in the second degree as a crime of terrorism. The three will not face further charges as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

The men are scheduled to be sentenced on August 8 and Vetromile faces at least seven years in prison, while Crysel and Colaneri face a prison sentence of four to 12 years, Ms Marianetti said.

Islamberg is a gated Muslim community about 250 kilometres north of New York City and is home to about 200 people, but it has been targeted by far-right conspiracy theorists.

Far-right conspiracy website Infowars claimed the community was home to a militant training camp on US soil despite there being no evidence to support the claims. Local authorities have said the online conspiracies are completely unfounded.

“They are law-abiding,” State Police commander Maj William McEvoy told the New York Times after the plot was uncovered. “They are positive, solid members of the community.”

The foiled attack was the second plot targeting Islamberg in two years, after right-wing former congressional candidate Robert Doggart was jailed for planning an armed attack on the community.

Local police said they carried out an investigation after a report from a high school pupil, who overheard a classmate said “he looks like the next school shooter” while showing an image of the unidentified minor involved in the plot to a third classmate. The first pupil then reported the comment to school security, who interviewed those involved and notified police.

After an investigation, police carried out searches and found 23 firearms and a number of homemade explosive devices as they uncovered details of the Islamberg plot.

The men apparently met through the Boy Scouts and had been planning the attack for a month when it was uncovered.

Local Police Chief Patrick Phelan said the outcome was a good example of teaching kids to “see something, say something”, CNN reported.

Updated: June 29, 2019 08:27 PM

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