Feb 7, 2023
FBI Says Orlando Man and Maryland Woman Planned Attack on Baltimore Power Grid Transcript
In what federal authorities are calling a case of “domestic violent extremists,” authorities on Monday announced charges in connection with an alleged plot to destroy energy facilities in Maryland. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:07):
Erek Barron (00:14):
Good morning. My name is Erek Barron. I am the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. Joining me here is FBI special agent in charge, Tom Sobocinski, along with a representative from the Baltimore County Police Department. We are here this morning to announce the arrest of Sarah Clan Daniel and Brandon Russell on criminal complaints for conspiring to attack our local power grid. As the criminal complaint alleges, Clan Daniel and Russell conspired and took steps to shoot multiple electrical substations in the Baltimore area, aiming to quote, completely destroy this whole city. But these plans were stopped thanks to the swift [inaudible 00:01:04] and collaboration of our federal, state and local enforcement partners, law enforcement partners. Together we are using every legal means necessary to keep Marylanders safe and to disrupt hate fueled violence.
When we are in united hate cannot win. We hope today’s charges make clear that the United States Attorney’s Office and our community and law enforcement partners remain vigilant in protecting all Marylanders. I want to thank the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore County Police Department for their excellent work. I also want to acknowledge the valuable contributions of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, including US attorney, Roger Hanberg and his team, as well as the FBI field offices for the Middle District of Florida, Washington, DC and New York. I also want to acknowledge assistant US attorney, Kathleen Gavin, the chief of our national security and cyber crime section, who is handling the case. And now I will turn it over to FBI’s special agent in charge, Sobocinski.
Speaker 1 (02:28):
Tom Sobocinski (02:30):
Good morning. I’m Tom Sobocinski, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. Marylanders can rest assured that a threat to disrupt their daily lives by attacking the local power grid has been stopped. As alleged in the complaint, Sarah Beth Clan Daniel and Brandon Russell conspired to inflict maximum harm on the power grid, a key component of our critical infrastructure. The accused were not just talking but taking steps to fulfill their threats and further their extremist goals. Russell provided instructions and location information. He described attacking the power transformers as the greatest thing somebody can do. In her own words, Clan Daniels said she was determined to do this. She added it would lay this city to waste. Their actions threaten the electricity and heat of our homes, hospitals, and businesses.
Identifying and disrupting terrorist plots both foreign and domestic is one of the FBI’s top priorities. Constant teamwork with our partners help detect the scheme and stop this threat. I am grateful for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Baltimore County Police Department and the Maryland State Police, as well as other law enforcement and private sector partners who work every day to prevent this type of violence from affecting our community. To those extremists looking to disrupt society and cause chaos in our communities, we will not allow, nor will we tolerate this. We work every day to mitigate these threats, including those to our critical infrastructure and identify those criminals seeking to afflict harm. As always, we ask the public to report anything they consider suspicious to law enforcement. Anyone with information can contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov. Thank you for your time and I’ll take a few questions if I can.
Speaker 4 (04:42):
There’s been attacks like this in other areas of the country. Is there an indication that they’re connected to those or part of the network or the people who are inspired by those things wanted to [inaudible 00:04:52]
Tom Sobocinski (04:52):
Yeah. The FBI is aware of those and have disrupted several over the last few months. We have no indication that this was anything larger than what we have, but the investigation continues.
Speaker 5 (05:04):
Can you talk more about how you identified these people and how the investigation got started?
Tom Sobocinski (05:09):
Yeah. Other than what’s in the criminal complaint, I can’t. I will just state that as soon as the FBI was involved, we did work with our state and local partners as well as the public sector to make sure that we had everything we needed to disrupt this before anything happened.
Speaker 6 (05:25):
Was the FBI notified or local officials?
Tom Sobocinski (05:30):
I can’t get into how we found out about this.
Speaker 6 (05:32):
And how are these two people related?
Tom Sobocinski (05:35):
We know that they had a personal as well as online relationship.
Speaker 6 (05:39):
Can you expand on that?
Tom Sobocinski (05:47):
I can’t right now.
Speaker 6 (05:47):
Are they related familialy or they just met online?
Tom Sobocinski (05:47):
I can’t go into that right now.
Speaker 4 (05:49):
Can you talk at all about motive?
Tom Sobocinski (05:52):
Other than what’s in the complaint and their extremist views, that’s what we’re going to go with right now.
Speaker 6 (05:58):
I wonder how many people would’ve been affected by this had they been successful.
Tom Sobocinski (06:05):
The FBI believes it was a real threat. Our hope is that it would’ve been minimal, but we couldn’t be able to tell you what that result would look like.