Police Arrest 3 Men, 1 Teenager After Foiling an Attack with Homemade Explosives and Firearms on a Mostly Black Muslim Community

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — A Muslim group called Wednesday for full prosecutions against the four people accused of plotting an attack on their rural enclave in upstate New York.

The arrests of three Rochester-area men and a 16-year-old who had access to homemade explosives and firearms sent shockwaves through the community of Islamberg, The Muslims of America said in a prepared statement. The small community has been dogged by allegations on right-wing websites that it is a terrorist training camp, and it was the target of a similar plot in 2015.

Muslim Community Plot
This combination of three Jan. 22, 2019, photographs released by the Greece Police Department in Greece, N.Y., shows Brian Colaneri, from left, Andrew Crysel and Vincent Vetromile. (Greece Police Department via AP)

“It is beyond tragic that our nation continues to fester with Islamophobia, hate and religious intolerance,” the group said in a prepared statement. “To bring justice and properly deter similar terrorist plots against our community, we are calling for the individuals charged, as well as their accomplices, to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Authorities in suburban Rochester on Tuesday announced weapons possession and conspiracy charges against Brian Colaneri, 20; Andrew Crysel, 18; and Vincent Vetromile, 19. A 16-year-old student at Odyssey Academy in Greece, a Rochester suburb, was charged as an adolescent offender.

Suspects are due in court Wednesday morning.

It was unclear whether the suspects had lawyers to speak for them yet, and attempts to reach relatives to comment weren’t successful.

At the time of their weekend arrests, the men, three of whom were in Boy Scouts together, had access to 23 rifles and shotguns and three homemade explosives, Greece police said. Investigators uncovered the plot after a student reported a suspicious comment in a lunchroom Friday.

The Muslims of America are followers of Sheikh Mubarik Gilani and run 22 communities in North America. The mostly African-American settlers of Islamberg first came to upstate New York in the 1980s to escape crime and crowding in New York City.

Police and analysts have dismissed accusations that the community — 120 miles (190 kilometers) southeast of Rochester — is a terrorist training ground. But the claims have persisted for decades.

In 2017, a Tennessee man was convicted on federal charges for what authorities called plans to burn down Islamberg’s mosque in 2015. Robert Doggart, now 67, is serving time in federal prison.

People walk through Islamberg, a Muslim enclave tucked just west of the Catskills. Authorities said the rural community was the target of a potential attack, which was foiled by a student tipster. (Mark Lennihan / AP)
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