Two California residents have been indicted for allegedly planning to firebomb the offices of California’s Democratic governor in Sacramento after the 2020 election, and had also discussed bombing Facebook and Twitter, federal court records show.
The pair, who were indicted on conspiracy charges as well as illegal possession of firearms and explosives, were part of an anti-government militia with a strong pro-Trump agenda called the Three Percenters. The conspirators’ texts alluded that their planned actions would send a message to tech companies like Facebook and Twitter days after they banned Trump from their platforms.
Texts recovered by the FBI indicated that the two men believed President Trump won the 2020 election, and that they wanted to go to “war” to keep him in office.
The first man arrested, Ian Benjamin Rogers, had been caught on January 15th, just days after allegedly texting with the other conspirator about plans for the bombing. The FBI found nearly 50 firearms, some illegal, and five pipe bombs in a search of Rogers’ home and business after the arrest. The second conspirator, Jarrod Copeland, was arrested on July 15th.
While allegedly planning to bomb Democratic buildings, the two men also allegedly discussed attacks against Facebook and Twitter headquarters, a motive that the FBI considers in its lawsuit against Rogers to be retaliation for the platforms banning Trump days earlier.
“We can attack Twitter and democrats easy right now burn they’re [sic] shit down,” Rogers wrote, according to the FBI.
The records also show that he texted “I’m thinking sac office first target,” which the FBI believes is an allusion to California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office. “Then maybe bird and face offices.”
“Bird” and “face” offices are fairly clear stand-ins for Twitter and Facebook, as Twitter’s logo is a bird and both companies had recently banned Trump from their platforms.
“Sad it’s come to this but I’m not going down without a fight,” Rogers allegedly texted. “These commies need to be told what’s up.”
FBI chief Christopher Wray issued a warning in early March that domestic terrorism is a growing threat in the United States, as exemplified by the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. In the wake of that attack, the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies have prioritized prosecutions against domestic groups plotting violent attacks.
Rogers and Copeland were indicted on July 7th and face charges of conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used in or affecting interstate commerce. Rogers also faces charges for the illegal possession of firearms and explosives, and Copeland has been charged with destroying evidence.
“Firebombing your perceived political opponents is illegal and does not nurture the sort of open and vigorous debate that created and supports our constitutional democracy,” U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds said, according to CBS’ Bay Area affiliate, in the understatement of the year.