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The FBI announced Tuesday it has arrested a group of self-described anarchists who were allegedly behind a plot to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio.
Authorities say that the group had also discussed other possible targets, including an upcoming NATO summit in Chicago and this summer's Republican National Convention in Florida, although those plans do not appear to have been very far along.
In all, five men were arrested Monday in connection with the bridge plot. Alleged ringleader Douglas L. Wright, 26, Brandon L. Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, all three of whom described themselves as anarchists to authorities, have been charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce, according to the Associated Press.
The two other men—Connor C. Stevens, 20, and Joshua S. Stafford, 23—were also arrested and face similar charges, although neither earned the anarchist label in the criminal complaint the FBI filed Tuesday.
Authorities say that the men first began scheming back in October, and that their original plans involved using smoke grenades to distract police as the men knocked bank signs off of high-rise buildings in downtown Cleveland. Their plans later evolved, however, to include using remotely-detonated C-4 explosives to damage various bridges and other physical targets in and around the city.
A paid FBI informant alerted the FBI of their ultimate plan to target the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, which traverses the Cuyahoga River south of Cleveland, according to authorities. The informant also arranged the purchase of the explosives, allowing federal agents to make the arrests Monday night as the men were allegedly arranging to pick them up. The government maintains that the public was never in danger since the explosives were under the control of an undercover agent at all times.
ABC News reports that Wright, the alleged ringleader, had also discussed recruiting homeless people from shelters to carry out attacks on financial institutions in downtown Cleveland, and that Wright and Baxter also allegedly talked about blowing up Cleveland’s Federal Reserve Bank. Wright is said to have discussed obtaining or making explosives using the book The Anarchist Cookbook.