WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — An Indiana man was among three men who pleaded guilty in conspiring to attack power grids throughout the United States in a plot Justice Department officials said was meant to sow hate, create chaos, and stoke division “all in the name of white supremacy.”
Jonathan Allen Frost, 24, of West Lafayette, Indiana, and Katy, Texas, joined Christopher Brenner Cook, 20, of Columbus, Ohio and Jackson Matthew Sawall, 22, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin in pleading guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.
“These individuals wanted to carry out such a plot because of their adherence to racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist views,” said Assistant Director Timothy Langan of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. “When individuals move from espousing particular views to planning or committing acts of violence the FBI will investigate and take action to stop their plans.”
According to a release by the United States Attorney of the Southern District of Ohio, in the fall of 2019 Frost and Cook met in an online chat group where Frost shared the idea of attacking a power grid. Within weeks, the two reportedly began efforts of recruiting others to join their plan. Authorities said literary questions and a book list promoting white supremacy and Neo-Nazism was part of the recruitment process.
Sawall, a friend of Cook’s, joined the conspiracy in late 2019, according to authorities.
Authorities said the group’s plan included attacking substations throughout the country with powerful rifles with the trio believing this action would cause unrest for Americans in different regions and even potentially cause a war or race war.
Frost reportedly supplied Cook with an AR-47 along with providing both Cook and Sawall with “suicide necklaces,” authorities said. The necklaces were filled with fentanyl and could be ingested if caught by police. Sawall even went as far as to swallow his suicide pill during a traffic stop, not long after he’d been spray painting swastikas in Columbus, Ohio, and plotting further propaganda plans. Sawall survived, however.
Cook and Frost continued plotting their conspiracy, authorities said, even going to Texas to try and recruit juveniles to join their plot in March of 2020.
After pleading guilty, the three defendants face a maximum of 15 years in prison.
“According to these pleas, three individuals engaged in a disturbing plot to attack our country’s energy infrastructure, damage the economy, and stoke division in our society, all in the name of white supremacy,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Justice Department will continue to investigate and disrupt such violent plots, and to hold perpetrators accountable in a courtroom, where the rule of law and the Constitution prevail.”