Three men plead guilty in plan to attack power grids to advance white supremacist ideology

Source: BY CHLOE FOLMAR, The Hill • Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2022

Three men pleaded guilty Wednesday to being part of a plan to attack power grids in an effort to spark race conflict that would advance white supremacy.

Christopher Brenner Cook, 20, of Columbus, Ohio; Jonathan Allen Frost, 24, of West Lafayette, Ind., and Katy, Texas; and Jackson Matthew Sawall, 22, of Oshkosh, Wis., all pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Cook and Frost met in 2019 through an online chat group, where Frost shared his plan to attack a power grid as a way to achieve white supremacist goals.

Cook recruited Sawall to the conspiracy, providing him with readings that promoted white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the DOJ said.

The three men each assigned themselves to a power grid in different parts of the country, which they planned to attack using rifles.

The defendants discussed their hopes that the power grid disruption would cost the government significant amounts of money, leading to unrest. Based on their conversations, authorities determined they hoped to cause a race war precipitated by the power being out for months.

Frost gave Cook an AR-47 in 2020, and both men trained at a shooting range in Columbus.

At the same meeting in Columbus, Frost gave his co-conspirators fentanyl necklaces that were supposed to be ingested if any of the three were caught. All of the defendants expressed a willingness to die for their white supremacist ideology.

The men attempted to recruit others for their plan in Columbus, flying a swastika flag that read “Join the Front.” Sawall swallowed his fentanyl necklace when the group was derailed, but he survived.

“These three defendants admitted to engaging in a disturbing plot, in furtherance of white supremacist ideology, to attack energy facilities in order to damage the economy and stoke division in our country,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen. “The Justice Department is committed to investigating and disrupting such terrorist plots and holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes.”

The defendants face a maximum sentence of 15 years for their crimes.