LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Federal prosecutors said a southern Nevada man, who was employed as a security guard, was charged and arraigned in federal court in connection to bomb making materials found in his home.
Conor Climo, 23, of Las Vegas, was arrested on Thursday and charged by a criminal complaint with one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, namely for the component parts of a "destructive device," prosecutors said.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to federal prosecutors. Climo was investigated by an FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force.
According to Climo's LinkedIn page, he worked as a security guard for Allied Universal, a security and investigations company based out of Santa Ana, California.
During the execution of a search warrant at his house on Aug. 8, authorities found a notebook that contained hand-drawn schematics for a potential attack in the Las Vegas area, a release from the Department of Justice said. Also found inside the notebook were drawings of timed explosive devices.
Agents seized an AR-15 rifle and a bolt action rifle from Climo's residence, the complaint said. Authorities also found chemicals and components that could be used for improvised explosive devices (IED), as well as drawings for IED circuits.
DEEP WEB GROUPS
According to the criminal complaint, the task force began investigating Climo in April 2019, based on information that he was speaking to several individuals who identified with a white supremacist group called Atomwaffen Division (AWD).
The group held a training camp outside Pahrump in 2018 to prepare for "a race war."
According to federal prosecutors, Climo allegedly sent encrypted messages to white supremacists this year, discussing how he planned to attack a local synagogue and a bar on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas that he believed catered to the LGBT community.
Climo suggested attacking a group homeless people as a test run for the synagogue and community center attacks, according to the criminal complaint. He also targeted the Las Vegas office for the Anti-Defamation League.
"Threats of violence motivated by hate and intended to intimidate or coerce our faith-based and LGBTQ communities have no place in this country," U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada said in a statement. "Law enforcement in Nevada remains determined to use the full weight of our investigative resources to prevent bias-motivated violence before it happens."
According to the complaint, the group Climo was in contact with encourages attacks on "the federal government, including critical infrastructure, minorities, homosexuals, and Jews."
TARGETED THE LOCAL ADL
The Anti-Defamation League of Nevada, one of Climo's targets, is located in the southeast part of the valley.
A counter-terrorism expert explained how this arrest is part of the FBI’s attempts to be more proactive after a string of deadly attacks across the country. He said that social media and the dark web can make it tough to find these lone wolves.
"He was getting very close to becoming actionable," Hal Kempfer said, a retired U.S. Marine who now trains law enforcement, including Las Vegas Metropolitan police and the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism facility.
"They’re not really hiding their views as much as actively seek out those who have similar views," Kempfer said. "They’re motivated online talking to others, and you'll hear keywords like, 'It's time to act. Nobody is doing anything.'"
AWD also works to recruit members to train them in military tactics, hand-to-hand combat, bomb making and other techniques.
In January 2017, Climo was asked a question on the question-and-answer website Quora about "the downsides of multiculturalism," the criminal complaint said. Climo replied, "To quote a Nationalist: 'your most precious possession on this earth is your people!'"
The quote is attributed to Adolf Hitler.
HOW HE WAS CAUGHT
In May 2019, an FBI "confidential human source" (CHS) began speaking with Climo, according to the criminal complaint. Climo acknowledged living in the Las Vegas area and discussed in detail how to make homemade Molotov cocktails.
He would also use derogatory racial slurs, anti-Semitic and homosexual slurs when speaking to the CHS and an FBI online cover employee (OCE).
Authorities said Climo tried to recruit a homeless person to conduct surveillance on a local synagogue and other targets leading up to an attack, but failed in the end.
After authorities searched his home, Climo told the FBI he left AWD and joined The Feuerkrieg Division (FKD), a splinter group of AWD, because he "wanted to do something 'generally different' related to his hatred of African-Americans, Jews, and Homosexuals," the criminal complaint said.
Climo eventually left FKD because he was bored with the groups inaction.
ADL, VALLEY THANKFUL FOR FBI ACTION
"We see the rise of white supremacy around the country; and so unfortunately, the saddest thing I can say is, no, it was not a surprise," ADL of Nevada regional director Jolie Brislin said.
The office was thankful local law enforcement stopped Climo.
"To think about what could have happened to vulnerable communities around Las Vegas without their support and without their investigation, it makes me shake," Brislin said.
The ADL works with Las Vegas police to make sure local groups have a safety plan in place. They said this was just a reminder to never let their guard down.
"We are here to secure justice and fair treatment for all," Brislin said. "And at the end of the day, we're going to fight back hate speech with good speech."
"At this point, so many different venues have been attacked. It's a smaller list of what wouldn't be attacked," Kempfer said. "If you see somebody acting suspicious don't just dismiss it, turn your head and walk away. You simply don’t know."
Extra Las Vegas police officers were on hand at Aid for AIDS Nevada's (AFAN) black and white party on Saturday. The event benefits Nevadans with HIV and AIDS.
"Last year, we didn’t have to have that extra layer of security. There wasn’t that fear," LVMPD Foundation’s Latoya Holman said. "Unfortunately, because of the gentleman that was taken into custody and that threat, there is a heightened sense, that need for security and protection. And it feels really good."