Planned Attack On Muslim Community In Upstate New York Disrupted, Police Say Three men and a 16-year-old youth have been arrested and authorities say 20 weapons and three improvised explosive devices were seized. The alleged target was Islamberg, near the Pennsylvania border.

Planned Attack On Muslim Community In Upstate New York Disrupted, Police Say

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Police in upstate New York say three men and a 16-year-old boy had a plan. It was a conspiracy to attack a community of Muslims. The alleged target is a rural settlement known as Islamberg. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: At a press conference Tuesday, police chief Patrick Phelan from Greece, N.Y., just outside Rochester, said the four people arrested had assembled a sizable arsenal, including more than 20 firearms and three improvised explosive devices.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

PATRICK PHELAN: If they had carried out this plot, which every indication is that they were going to, you know, people would have died. I don't know how many and who, but people would've died.

MANN: Police aren't saying what the motive was or releasing details of the plan. Islamberg lies in a rural area a three-hour drive from Rochester. It was settled by Muslim families in the 1980s. About 200 people live there. Local authorities and neighbors say the religious community is peaceful, a long-established part of the region's culture. But in recent years, Islamberg has become the target of suspicion and conspiracy theories among right-wing groups and conservative media. This, from a broadcast on Fox News (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "VARNEY AND CO.")

STUART VARNEY: People in an Islamist compound are stockpiling guns in preparation for the Trump administration. We're going to show you...

MANN: In 2017, a Tennessee man was sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison after plotting to burn down Islamberg's mosque and school. Anti-Muslim activists regularly hold protests nearby. Lisa Joseph spoke at a rally there in 2017.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LISA JOSEPH: We will not tolerate ISIS training camps, militant-style training camps, radicalized training camps.

MANN: State police and the FBI have debunked those claims repeatedly and say is Islamberg poses no threat. Authorities say this latest alleged plot involved young men. The oldest was 20, and two of the suspects are still in high school. It was uncovered after the 16-year-old, who's been arrested, talked to friends in the lunchroom at his school. Police chief Patrick Phelan says another high school student then raised the alarm.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PHELAN: The kid that initially said something to an adult saved people's lives. We tell kids this all the time. We say if you see something, say something; you got to report anything suspicious. The lesson is that it works. And as a result, nobody's dead.

MANN: A spokesman for the Islamberg community says they'll hold a press conference later today. The FBI, New York State Police and other agencies say they're still investigating, including a review of the suspect's phones and computers. They say more arrests are possible. Brian Mann, NPR News.

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