Prosecutors: Neo-Nazis planned to attack synagogues, power plants

A 21-year-old neo-Nazi and two of his roommates planned to use explosives to harm civilians, nuclear facilities, and synagogues, according to federal prosecutors.  The sinister plot to “kill civilians and target locations like power lines (and) nuclear reactors” was revealed in court documents for the first time since Brandon Russell was arrested last week. 

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas McCoun found “no clear and convincing evidence” that Russell was a threat to the community, so he granted Russell’s request for bond

Prosecutors hoped the plot described in the new court documents would convince the judge to change his mind.  Late Tuesday, the judge agreed to issue a stay, opting to keep Russell in jail while he considered the matter.

The judge had previously set Russell’s bond at $200,000.  And, if released, Russell would have to stay on monitored house arrest at his grandmother’s home in the Orlando area and may not have access to weapons or a computer "to promote or engage in neo-Nazi activities during the pretrial period."

His attorney, Ian Goldstein, says the judge made the right call. "He had these materials for over two years. He never used them, never planned to use them, and there's no evidence that he planned to use them."

Russell, a member of the Florida National Guard, was charged last week with possession of unregistered destructive devices and unlawful storage of explosive materials. 

Agents say they found the bomb-making materials in Russell’s apartment last month while investigating the murders of his roommates, 22-year-old Jeremy Himmelman and 18-year-old Andrew Oneschuk.  Police say a fourth roommate, 18-year-old Devon Arthurs, admitted to killing Himmelman and Oneschuck because “they disrespected his Muslim faith.” 

Before his recent conversion to Islam, Arthurs shared the same neo-Nazi beliefs as his three roommates.

Russell was not home at the time of the murders, but came home to discover the bodies just as police were arriving. 

Arthurs told police his roommates were planning to carry out a terror attack.  He said Russell often visited white supremacy and neo-Nazi chat rooms, where he threatened to blow up buildings and kill people.  After leading police to the bodies, he told them where to find Russell’s bomb-making materials. 

Police say Russell claimed the explosives were for amateur rockets, but prosecutors say they found no evidence of rockets or rocket-building.  They say the explosives are similar to those used by Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, whose bomb blew apart the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, killing 168 people. 

Investigators say they found a framed photo of McVeigh on Russell’s bedroom dresser.

Devon Arthurs, meanwhile, remains held without bond on two counts of first-degree murder.