CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal grand jury on Thursday added a charge against an Ohio man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol, alleging in the new count that he was trying to help Islamic State extremists.
The superseding indictment charges Christopher Lee Cornell, 21, of the Cincinnati suburbs, with attempting to provide material support and resources, including himself as personnel, to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization.
Counterterrorism experts are on alert for “lone wolf,” do-it-yourself terrorist plots inspired by the Islamic State extremist group. Concerns have heightened this week after two gunmen were shot dead while trying to attack an event in Garland, Texas, that featured cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammad.
Cornell was initially charged in January with attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees along with two other counts. He pleaded not guilty to the earlier charges and is scheduled to appear May 12 before a federal magistrate on the fourth count. He has been held without bond since his Jan. 14 arrest.
His attorney didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment Thursday on the superseding indictment.
His father has said Cornell was coerced by a government “snitch.”
The FBI has said Cornell, who uses the Muslim name of Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, wanted to wage jihad by attacking the Capitol with pipe bombs and shooting government officials and employees.
Before his arrest, Cornell sent messages on social media and posted video in support of Islamic State militants and violent attacks by others, the FBI said. Cornell told a television station in March that he had wanted to go to Washington and shoot President Barack Obama.
The new count against Cornell carries a potential sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
The earlier counts of attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees and solicitation to commit a crime of violence each carry potential 20-year prison sentences. Cornell also faces a firearms-related charge carrying a mandatory minimum of five years, up to a maximum of life in prison.
Federal authorities said earlier that they have video and audio recordings of meetings between a confidential informant and Cornell, who was arrested outside a gun shop in the suburbs west of Cincinnati. Authorities said he had just bought two assault weapons and 600 rounds of ammunition.
A federal judge earlier this week granted a defense motion to allow Cornell to privately review in jail what his attorney called a “massive amount” of video and audio files in the case. U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith restricted him to a computer without Internet access and barred him from using outgoing mail while he has the files.
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