A 20-year-old man who planned to murder the president and attack the U.S. Capitol with pipe bombs confessed he made the plans in sympathy with ISIS. In an interview from jail, he warned that the group has followers in every state and claimed additional attacks are on the way.
Chris Cornell was arrested by the FBI in January when he tried to purchase two semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition at a gun store in Ohio. Last week, Cornell called local TV news station FOX19 from prison and gave an hour-long interview in which he described his plans for the foiled attack on the U.S. government. “I would have took my gun, I would have put it to Obama’s head, I would have pulled the trigger,” Cornell said. He added, “Then I would unleash more bullets on the Senate and House of Representative members, and I would have attacked the Israeli embassy and various other buildings.”
Reporter Tricia Macke, who interviewed Cornell for FOX19 asked what was coming next now that Cornell’s planned attack had failed. “What I think is coming? Many things. There will be indeed many, many attacks,” Cornell claimed. Asked how organized the Islamic State was in America, Cornell replied, “We are indeed here in America. We are in each and every state.” Later in the interview, Cornell added, “We’re in Texas. We’re in Ohio. We’re in New York City. We’re in Washington DC.”
Cornell, who went by the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah online, expressed sympathy for ISIS on social media last year. According to court documents, Cornell contacted a man he believed to be sympathetic to ISIS via his Twitter account in August. That person was in fact cooperating with the FBI. The two met, and Cornell showed the informant his plans to attack the U.S. Capitol with pipe bombs as well as his research into how to build the bombs.
In the interview with FOX19 and in his meetings with the FBI informant, Cornell claims he was in contact with jihadists overseas using an encrypted messaging service. However it was not clear that Cornell had been given any specific instructions for the planned attack on the Capitol. Instead, Cornell told the informant, “we should just wage jihad under our own orders and plan attacks and everything.”
Cornell’s defense attorney attempted to prevent the interview with FOX19 from airing. He filed a motion claiming that reporter Tricia Macke had violated a court order by being in contact with Cornell without his attorney’s approval. However, the judge ruled the original court order was “ambiguous” and said Cornell’s First Amendment right to speak could not be infringed. FOX19 aired the interview on Friday after the decision was made.