Federal agents on October 15 arrested three white men in Kansas and charged them with plotting a terrorist attack against Somali immigrant workers.
The immigrants, most of whom are Muslim, live in an apartment complex located in the western Kansas town of Garden City. Many of them work at a nearby Tyson Foods meat packing plant.
According to a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal complaint, the three men “conspired with each other and with others to use weapons of mass destruction” to blow up the apartment complex where the immigrants live.
The complaint states that Chris Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein, and Gavin Wayne Wright planned to load four vehicles with explosives and detonate the bombs close to the apartment complex.
The explosives that they planned to use were similar to those used by Timothy McVeigh in 1995 to blow up a federal office building in Oklahoma City.
The alleged terrorists planned to detonate the explosion on November 9, the day after Election Day.
They are members of an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim militia group called the Crusaders.
The complaint states that the alleged co-conspirators “have routinely expressed their hatred for Muslims, individuals of Somali descent, and immigrants. They chose the target based on their hatred of those groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up’.”
In addition to their plan to blow up the apartment complex, members of the group also talked about taking action against churches and people who have helped the Somalis settle in Garden City.
The Somalis who live in the targeted apartment complex are refugees from a county that has been in the midst of a bloody civil war for years.
They moved to the US because their lives were in danger in Somalia.
Once they settled in Garden City, many of the apartment residents, who number about 120, went to work at the Tyson meat packing house.
As well as Somalis, Tyson has hired immigrant workers from other African countries, Vietnam, Burma, Malaysia, Mexico, and South America to work at its Garden City packing house.
For 150 years, US employers have relied heavily on immigrants to perform the country’s most arduous, dangerous, low-paying work. Tyson, the largest food processor in the world with annual sales of $40 billion, is part of this long tradition.
The work on Tyson killing floors and processing plants is hard, dangerous, and low paying.
According to Hunter Ogletree, an organizer with the Western North Carolina Workers Center who helps Tyson workers at its poultry processing plant in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Tyson “reported 51 amputations or hospitalizations (at its food processing plants) to OSHA” during 2015 and the early part of 2016.
“Among all companies in the US, Tyson reported the fourth highest number of these serious incidents,” continued Ogletree.
Tyson was recently fined $263,000 by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety violations at its poultry processing plant in Center, Texas.
The fine was the result of a safety inspection that took place after a Tyson workers had his thumb amputated after it was caught in a conveyor belt.
The pay at Tyson for processing food is also low.
In 2015, Tyson announced that it was raising pay at its poultry processing plants. The Wall Street Journal reports that after the pay increase went into effect, a production workers who worked for Tyson for a year would be making $12 an hour.
Work at Tyson’s meat packing plants like the one in Garden City appears to pay better.
An NPR report from 2013 said that workers’ pay at the Garden City plant averaged $13.50 an hour, but the report stated that many of these workers still rely on food stamps and reduced-price school lunches to make ends meet for their families.
The day after the arrests, The Wichita Eagle reports that, the immigrant workers and others who live in and near the targeted apartment complex gathered together to hear a briefing from the Garden City police Chief Michael Utz.
Utz tried to reassure them that the police and citizens of Garden City would protect them.
But when he spoke of the alleged terrorists’ motives, his words sounded ominous.
“The only answer I can give you about why this happened is that they wanted to attack your religious beliefs,” said Utz.