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August 24, 2019

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Report: White supremacist arrested in Las Vegas tells agents of attack plans

 Conor Climo

KTNV 13 Action News via AP

This Sept. 22, 2016, photo from video from KTNV 13 Action News shows Conor Climo during an interview while walking a Las Vegas neighborhood, heavily armed. The man who authorities say worked as a security guard has been arrested and accused of plotting to firebomb a Las Vegas synagogue or a bar catering to LGTBQ customers, officials said Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

The alleged would-be attacker considers his white race to be superior. Admittedly and unapologetically, the Las Vegas resident harbored hatred toward African Americans, Jews and members of the LGBTQ community.

But simply embracing the extremist views would no longer suffice, as Conor Climo, 23, was ready to spring into action, he told an undercover FBI investigator this summer.

“I’m more interested in action than online (expletive),” the suspect said, according to a federal complaint.

The 11-page document outlines how the FBI-led task force built its case against Climo using intelligence, undercover communications and an informant.

The Las Vegas arrest on Thursday comes at a time when mass shootings are traumatizing the nation, and attributed by many to extremism of white supremacy, domestic terrorism and inadequate gun-ownership regulations.

Just last week a self-described white supremacist reportedly confessed to shooting rounds from an assault rifle into a packed Walmart in El Paso, Texas, slaying 22 victims and injuring a couple dozen more. And last October, a gunman killed 11 at Pittsburgh synagogue.

By the time Climo was arrested this week — when authorities found materials that could have been used to manufacture explosives at his home — he had imagined, discussed and or diagrammed possible attack plots. In one instance, he would firebomb a Las Vegas synagogue followed by a “light infantry weapon attack.”

In another plan, which was discovered by FBI agents in a notebook while serving a search warrant, Climo allegedly drew out how a possible attack would go down at a downtown Las Vegas bar he deemed to be friendly to LGBTQ clientele. Gunmen in two squads would rush the business, shooting outside, then inside, according to the complaint.

Climo waived his right to remain silent, telling agents about a potential plan that would have included an eight-man sniper squad that would kill scores of Jews at a synagogue or another “area of opportunity,” the complaint said.

For more than two years, Climo said he considered the different ways in which he would kill Jewish people, the complaint said. He told authorities he hadn’t decided on a way.

Climo was jailed on a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm, in the form of the component parts of a destructive device, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the district of Nevada. A U.S. federal judge on Friday ordered Climo to remain in custody pending an Aug. 23 court appearance.

It wasn’t clear when Climo became radicalized, but he appeared on the FBI’s radar in April when agents learned he was communicating with members associated with the Attomwaffen Division, an extremist white supremacist group that uses the ideology of the National Socialist Movement, who model themselves on Nazis.

The Attomwaffen Division is mostly made up of white males ages of 16 and 30. It calls for violence against the government and minorities, according to the compliant. Its ultimate goal is a “race war,” and the “leaderless resistance” recruits “like-minded” members, and trains them in “military tactics, hand to hand combat and bomb making,” the complaint said.

Climo was apparently like-minded.

He told the agents that in late 2017, he began to communicate with members from a Neo-Nazi group that had splintered from the Attomwaffen Division and shares identical ideology. Members of such hate groups converge online and communicate undetected using encrypted messaging.

Climo said he studied and experimented with explosives, and members from the Attomwaffen Division were interested in his knowledge, as he was interested in their ideology of hate, according to the complaint. The group, for his bomb-making knowledge, offered Climo the ability and the “glory” for a “greater cause,” he told agents.

But the group wasn’t interesting or violent enough for Climo, who said he became bored and frustrated. He “wanted to do more” against the those he hated, according to the complaint.

When he left the group, he revisited his plan against the synagogue, the complaint said. He would torch it while worshippers gathered inside.

Earlier this year, around the time the FBI had set eyes on Climo, a confidential informant came forward with information about a man the informant had met online. Climo had discussed with that person, in detail, how to manufacture a Molotov cocktail, and how he wanted to spark a blaze at an occupied synagogue, the complaint said.

The informant put Climo in contact with an undercover agent, who pretended to be like-minded. In a series of conversations, Climo opened up about his alleged plans, sharing his disdain for minorities.

Climo spoke about weapons and his military service, and how he’d surveilled the downtown bar, the complaint said. He described the area “in great detail.”

He allegedly kept talking about possible targets against the Jewish community, sending the undercover agent online maps on where several synagogues were located. One of synagogues, along with a mosque, were near his house, according to the complaint.

The undercover agent told Climo that he had some solid plans, asking if he had an escape strategy. “Still thinking on that,” the suspect said, allegedly.

At least one of his plans contained an escape plan, the complaint said.

Law enforcement serving a search warrant found chemicals and electronic components typically used to manufacture improvised explosive devices at Climo’s residence. They included: potassium permanganate, thermite, sulfuric acid, lithium aluminum hydride, as well as soldering iron, wires, circuit boards. A notebook had sketches that were “consistent with the items and circuitry needed to function a timed explosive device,” the complaint said.

There were also empty commercial fireworks tubes and fuse. According to an FBI bomb technician, the items “could be used to readily assemble a destructive device,” the complaint said.

If convicted, Climo faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.