Accused neo-Nazi charged with planning attack on Las Vegas synagogue

Jewish Agency’s Herzog calls threat a trend that is ‘fermenting underground at every moment’

By REUTERS
August 11, 2019 09:31
2 minute read.
Police vehicles line Las Vegas Boulevard following the mass shooting, October 4, 2017.

Police vehicles line Las Vegas Boulevard following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 4, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE)

An accused neo-Nazi sympathizer employed as a Las Vegas security guard was charged on Friday with possession of unregistered bomb-making materials that he clandestinely discussed using to attack a synagogue, federal prosecutors said. 

The suspect, Conor Climo, 23, was arrested on Thursday after FBI agents searching his Las Vegas home seized fireworks, fuses, wiring and other components for constructing timed explosive devices, according to court documents filed in the case.

Climo, who faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, was arraigned in federal court on Friday, according to a statement from the US attorney for Nevada. His arrest stemmed from an investigation conducted by an FBI task force specializing in monitoring the activities and online communications of extremists and domestic terror groups.

The investigation was detailed in an 11-page criminal complaint and probable cause statement filed in court federal prosecutors and the FBI. The suspect admitted during FBI questioning that he belonged to a neo-Nazi splinter group of a white supremacist organization known as the Atomwaffen Division, which encourages attacks on the federal government, racial minorities, Jews and the gay and lesbian community, the documents alleged.

The man told FBI agents that he wanted to put together an eight-man sniper platoon to enter a Las Vegas synagogue or some other Jewish center and shoot Jews.

“The threat of hate crimes and antisemitism in particular in the US is a tangible threat that has been fermenting underground at every moment,” Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog said in response to Climo’s arrest.

“All antisemitism and xenophobia should be uprooted at each and every site throughout the world.” Climo had even gone so far as to have a homeless person nearby engage in surveillance on a synagogue. He had additionally drawn up doodles of the planned attack on the LGBT bar, which included two infantry squads attacking with guns from the outside while one attacked from the inside. He claimed to have planned and imagined an attack on Jews for the past two years.

The FBI said it began tracking Climo after he was featured in a Las Vegas news report patrolling his Centennial Hills neighborhood wearing a tactical vest and armed with an assault rifle and several magazines of ammunition.

During encrypted online conversations with undercover FBI operatives, Climo discussed attacking a Las Vegas synagogue and making Molotov cocktails and improvised explosive devices, according to the criminal complaint. It said he also discussed conducting surveillance on a Las Vegas bar he believed catered to the LGBTQ community and claimed to have tried to recruit a homeless person for pre-attack surveillance of a synagogue and other targets.

The arrest comes days after a 22 people were killed in a shooting rampage at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, which authorities said they are investigating as a hate crime and active of domestic terrorism.

A manifesto linked to the suspect arrested in that case said the massacre was a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

The FBI issued a statement voicing concern that the El Paso killings, and a separate deadly mass shooting 13 hours later in Dayton, Ohio, might inspire additional hate violence.


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