Men Accused In Kansas Bomb Plot Saw Refugees As Threat, Wanted To ‘Wake America Up’

Men Accused In Kansas Bomb Plot Saw Refugees As Threat, Wanted To ‘Wake America Up’

This Friday, Feb, 3, 2017 photograph shows the apartment complex targeted in Garden City, Kan. Prosecutors allege a plot to detonate truck bombs the day after the election at an apartment complex where 120 Somali immigrants live in western Kansas. (Orlin Wagner/AP)

A trial begins in March in Wichita, Kansas, for three men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, where Somali refugees live and maintain a mosque.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks with Jessica Pressler (@jpressler), contributing editor for New York Magazine, who’s written about the plot, the FBI investigation and the upcoming trial.

Interview Highlights

On Garden City, Kansas

“Garden City is almost a very typical small town. It is literally in the middle of the country, almost equidistant from both sides. It’s a cattle town right now. There are a lot of meatpacking plants in the area, and farms and things like that, and then of course there’s a town center and a Walmart and all that good stuff. … And a lot of Somali refugees. They have come because there’s jobs, there’s jobs at the meatpacking plants, kind of like hard labor — you don’t have to speak English — cutting sides of meat, packaging meat, just they need a lot of hands out there because they produce a lot of meat from that area.”

On how Somali refugees are seen in Garden City

“It’s interesting. I mean there is in Garden City a kind of history of having a lot of different ethnicities, and a very diverse population. And there are people who have moved to Garden City specifically to work with the refugee population, because they want to help people. And then there is, especially kind of in the lead-up to the [2016 presidential] election, people who feel suspicious of them, because they are Muslim, they tend to keep to themselves. So there are people who are suspicious and nervous about … that it’s changed the community.”

“They were really worked up by especially a lot of the rhetoric in the lead-up to the election about Muslim refugees coming into the country.”

Jessica Pressler, on the men accused of plotting to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas

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Beulah Chambers