A quiet Muslim community in the foothills of the Catskill mountains in New York, founded in the 1980s has been the continual target of terrorist threats and attacks. But not from terrorist groups located anywhere else in the world. No, these threats are homegrown, domestic terrorists.
In the latest instance, two of three men implicated in an alleged terror plot against the Islamberg community shared a joint YouTube channel that featured guns, especially assault rifles and pellet guns, The Democrat and Chronicle reports.
Area police allege that 19-year-old Vincent Vetromile, 18-year-old Andrew Crysel, 20-year-old Bryan Colaneri, and another teen yet to be named amassed a cache of pipe bombs and firearms that they intended to use to attack the community.
Greece police discovered this after search warrants were issued. Nearly two dozen rifles and shotguns were found last weekend and police say the group plotted to use them. Police also found three homemade explosive devices inside the unnamed teen’s home.
Vetromile, Colaneri, Crysel and the teenager are charged with three counts each of criminal possession of a weapon and fourth-degree conspiracy. New York enacted the “Raise the Age” law, so the teen will be adjudicated as an adolescent defender and his case has been referred to Family Court.
Police were alerted to the alleged plot when a 16-year-old Greece Odyssey Academy student showed classmates a photo of another person on his phone. The other students became alarmed and contacted police after he “made a comment to the effect ‘he looks like the next school shooter, doesn’t he?'” said Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan during a press conference Tuesday.
Phelan said police conducted several interviews and uncovered a “serious plot” to attack Islamberg, a community located in Delaware County, near the Catskills. Police also confiscated several electronic devices from all four suspects. The devices will undergo forensic examination in the next few days.
Although he didn’t provide specifics, Phelan added that police found a “disturbing and suspicious” substance on the devices. The explosives appeared to be filled with black powder and nails and they will be examined by federal authorities, Phelan said.
Hussein Adams, chief executive officer of Muslims of America, spoke out at a press conference in Binghampton, New York about the alleged plot and the hatred that is so often directed against the Muslim community.
“We must begin to hold these Islamophobes accountable for provoking others by spreading lies, baseless accusations, and misinformation about American Muslims.
Adams noted that lies and false narratives about this community have been fueled by the “misuse of social media.” He also said police informed him there are reasons to believe more suspects are involved.
Those lies have been helped along by Fox News and other conservative media outlets, Media Matters for America (MMFA) reports. This incident is the third time that a violent plot against this community has been uncovered. And as The Outline notes Fox News and other right-wing media outlets have been demonizing Islamberg and it’s approximately 200 residents for years by making unfounded allegations that the town is a terrorist training camp.
Phelan notes that if the suspects had carried out their plot the results would have been devastating.
“If they had carried out this plot, and we have every indication that this was what they were going to do, people would have died,” Phelan told reporters.
In a statement, Muslims of America, which is located in Islamberg, thanked law enforcement for preventing what surely could have been a tragedy.
“It is beyond tragic that our nation continues to fester with Islamophobia, hate, and religious intolerance.”
In 2015 another plot that could also have ended in horrific violence was fortunately foiled. Robert Doggart, a resident of Tennessee planned to “round up a militia and burn down a mosque, school, and cafeteria” in Islamberg, and anyone who tried to stop the violence would be shot. Doggart pleaded guilty to several federal charges in 2017.
But when the story broke in 2015, Fox News didn’t even cover it. Despite the fact that it was a regular fountain of misinformation regarding the small community. In her story for The Outline, writer Gaby Del Valle noted that the conservative media, especially Fox News Business host Lou Dobbs and the members of the extremist group The Proud Boys fanned the vitriolic flames of Islamophobia.
The video below recounts her experiences and discusses just how Fox News throws fuel on the Islamophobia fire.
Robert Mauro, a frequent Fox News guest, and director of The Clarion Project continuously malign women of the community by showing them training in guerrilla warfare. The source of the video, however, has never been corroborated, MMFA notes.
And Mohammad Matthew Gardner, the public relations director for MOA told Del Valle:
“I don’t know anything about those videos. When [Mauro’s] quoting his source, that information is garbage. Whatever they’re saying is not happening with us. It’s not.”
As for this most recent horrible plot? Fox News made one brief mention of it on Wednesday, during a brief segment on America’s Newsroom. There is no doubt terrorism is alive and well in the United States. But it’s not being caused by immigrants. It’s domestic terrorism at it’s very worst. Indeed, it’s far more likely to come from someone wearing a MAGA hat than from someone wearing Middle Eastern garb.
In the first video below, Chief Patrick Phelan discusses the ongoing investigation of the suspects. The second video provides more information about the weapons police found.
Featured image by New York Daily News via YouTube video