Mendota Heights man is described in federal affidavits as planning to cause blast with oil and gas.
A Mendota Heights man with suspected ties to white supremacist groups had devised a plan to attack the Mexican consulate in St. Paul and believed his actions would "manifest national awareness," according to a federal affidavit obtained Thursday by the Associated Press.
The affidavit, recently unsealed in federal court, provides details of an investigation into the alleged plans of Joseph Benjamin Thomas. The 42-year-old was indicted in April on drug charges, although authorities were investigating him and another man as part of a domestic terrorism probe.
Investigators claimed the men had amassed weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition as part of a plan to attack the government, minorities and others.
Thomas is not facing any terrorism-related charges. A message left for his attorney was not immediately returned Thursday, and the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment on the case.
The FBI affidavit alleges Thomas told an undercover agent he was plotting to steal a pickup truck, load it with barrels of oil and gas, drive it into the consulate and allow the mixture to spill. The mixture would then be set ablaze with a road flare.
The affidavit said Thomas originally wanted to carry out the attack the eve of May 1, a date that in recent years has been used by U.S. activists to hold rallies for immigrant rights. But Thomas later said the attack could not happen on that day because of "personal factors complicating his life," the affidavit said.
Agents saw Thomas conducting surveillance on the consulate building in December.
"We consider him a threat, and we believe he had the capacity to carry these threats out," FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Thursday. "This was a lengthy investigation, and it was driven by our belief that the intentions of these persons were sincere."
Thomas and another man, 31-year-old Samuel James Johnson of Austin, Minn., were arrested last month. According to an affidavit unsealed at the time of their arrests, the two had been amassing weapons and ammunition with plans to target government, minorities and others.
According to the earlier affidavit, Johnson was a former member and Minnesota leader of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist group, and he and Thomas were trying to form a spinoff group called the Aryan Liberation Movement.