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Arizona woman arrested in a conspiracy to commit terrorism case

(Mugshot from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office of Michelle Bastian)

PHOENIX — An Arizona woman has been taken into custody on conspiracy to commit terrorism charges.

Michelle Bastian was arrested Wednesday after agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Phoenix office and the Attorney General’s Office served two search warrants, according to state Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office.

The warrants were served in Chandler and Florence, Arizona, where Bastian lives.

Court documents said a source told the Arizona Department of Corrections that Bastian and her husband, an inmate named Thomas Bastian, were plotting to make an explosive device to kill the prison warden and others.

Thomas Bastian is serving a life sentence for a 2008 murder. The informant also told authorities that Bastian had converted to Islam. He is in the maximum security wing of the facility but had been trying to gain a spot in the general population.

Inside his cell, authorities said they found publications from terrorist organizations including ISIS and al-Qaida. One of the publications had an article with steps to make a bomb with what could be found in “your mother’s kitchen.”

Michelle Bastian is accused of sneaking in that reading material, disguised as legal papers but were “instructions on how to commit acts of terrorism,” according to court papers.

The court paperwork said the couple planned to stash the device in a vending machine in the visitor’s center.

Earlier this week, a young man from Tucson pleaded guilty to terrorism charges.

Mahin Khan, 18, had plans to attack a Jewish community center.

It was the first state-level prosecution of terrorism.


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