A 20-year-old Ohio native accused by the FBI of looking to “wage jihad” on the United States was indicted Wednesday on charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Christopher Lee Cornell, who is also known as Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, was charged with attempted murder of a government official, solicitation to commit a crime and possession of a firearm with intent to commit a violent crime. According to a criminal complaint, Cornell said he had plans to detonate pipe bombs inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, then gun down people as they fled the building. He will be arraigned Thursday.
He faces a minimum sentence of 40 years in prison if convicted of all three charges. The maximum is life imprisonment. He is being held without bond.
The FBI announced it had spent the past five months investigating Cornell, who, the agency said, became interested in radical ideas after reading radical literature and media like Inspire, the online magazine published by al Qaeda. The FBI’s investigation does not suggest any formal link between Cornell and al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations.
Cornell, a native of Green Township, Ohio, lived with his parents and at the time of his arrest was unemployed. Cornell’s family said he converted to Islam two months ago.
He was arrested Jan. 15 outside Point Blank West, a gun shop and shooting range in Cincinnati, by an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force that includes members of several Ohio police departments, the United States Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service. He’d bought two AR-15 assault rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition there, according to authorities.
Cornell’s parents told the Daily Mail they believe their son is the victim of a setup, saying he did not have the money to buy the guns or the ammunition.
“Those guns cost almost $2,000,” his father, John Cornell, said. “Where did that money come from? Well, it came from the FBI.”
Cornell's arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.