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A Lunchroom Comment Raised Eyebrows. Then, a Plot Busted

Terror scheme uncovered in western New York to attack 'Islamberg,' cops say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 23, 2019 9:00 AM CST
This combination of three Jan. 22, 2019, photographs shows, from left, Brian Colaneri, Andrew Crysel, and Vincent Vetromile. The three men are accused of plotting to attack Islamberg, a 60-acre Muslim...   (Greece Police Department via AP)

(Newser) – Three men and a high school student were charged with plotting to attack a rural upstate New York Muslim community named Islamberg with explosives, authorities tell the AP. The Rochester-area residents are accused of plotting to attack the small Muslim enclave west of the Catskills, according to court papers. The men, three of whom were in Boy Scouts together, had access to 23 rifles and shotguns and three homemade explosives, Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan says. "I don't know that there was a specific date. They had a plan in place," Phelan notes. He didn't rule out the possibility of additional arrests. Charged with weapons possession and conspiracy were 20-year-old Brian Colaneri, 18-year-old Andrew Crysel, and 19-year-old Vincent Vetromile. A 16-year-old student at Odyssey Academy in Greece was charged as an adolescent offender.

It was a lunchroom comment by the student at school Friday that launched the investigation. "He looks like the next school shooter, doesn't he?" he allegedly said while showing students a picture of another boy on his phone. A student "did what we teach kids to do and told somebody," the chief says. School security and Greece police eventually "uncovered ... a plot to attack an Islamic community in Delaware County, known as Islamberg," Phelan says. Three improvised explosive devices wrapped in duct tape were found at the 16-year-old's house. Greece Central School District Superintendent Kathleen Graupman says the students "changed the narrative." Adds Phelan, "If they had carried out this plot, which every indication is that they were going to, people would have died." Islamberg is operated by the Muslims of America; police have dismissed accusations that the 60-acre community is a terrorist training ground, but claims have persisted for decades.

(Read more terror plots stories.)

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