Joseph Benjamin Thomas, 42, of Mendota Heights, Minn., and Samuel James Johnson, 31, of Austin, Minn., both former NSM members, were involved in the plot, an FBI affidavit says.
The FBI investigation of the pair began in January 2010 and involved the use of a tracking device secretly placed on Thomas’ car on Aug. 29, 2011, allowing agents to track his travels and identify potential co-conspirators. On Jan. 23 of this year, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled law enforcement officers must obtain search warrants to plant GPS tracking devices on suspects’ vehicles, the FBI sought and obtained court authorization to continue monitoring Thomas vehicle, the affidavit says.
Thomas and Johnson were arrested in April on federal drug and firearms charges and have not been charged with any terrorism-related crimes. Prior to the planned May 1 attack on the Mexican consulate in St. Paul, Minn., officials there were notified of the potential threat and increased security, according to a news report today by The Associated Press.
“Expressions of hate are the ones that motivated the alleged plotter,” Ana Luisa Fajer, the Mexican consul based in St. Paul told The AP. “These things exist, but we definitely think it’s an isolated voice here.”
The consulate was targeted after Thomas and Johnson, who were both members of the NSM, broke away from that neo-Nazi organization in April 2011 and started a new spin-off organization identified in other court documents as the Aryan Liberation Movement (ALM). The new group was to have “militant, funding, propaganda and political wings.” While the new leaders hoped to recruit other white supremacists to take part in “acts of violence against minority individuals or members of the United States government,” they also discussed “lone wolf” acts of terrorism, the affidavit says.
The group intended to fund its acquisition of weapons through the sale of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, other court documents say.
“In furtherance of disassociating from NSM, Thomas suggested ‘dispatching’ (defined by Thomas and Johnson as killing) existing members of NSM. Thomas suggested building pipe bombs for that purpose,” the FBI affidavit says.
The FBI, using an undercover agent and a confidential informant, monitored meetings where Thomas detailed a plan to steal a pickup truck, load it with one or more 55-gallon barrels filled with homemade napalm – a mixture of gas, oil and Styrofoam – and “drive the vehicle into the Mexican consulate in St. Paul, Minn., on the eve of May 1, 2012,” the affidavit said.