Share story

CINCINNATI — A man who plotted to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials inside and spoke of his desire to support the militant Islamic State group was arrested Wednesday, the FBI said.

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Ohio charges Christopher Lee Cornell with attempting to kill a federal officer and possession of a firearm in furtherance of an attempted act of violence.

Cornell, also known as Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, was arrested as he took control of a firearm during an undercover FBI operation in southwestern Ohio, the FBI said. The public was never in danger, said John Barrios, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cincinnati division.

The complaint alleges that an FBI informant began supplying agents with information about Cornell last year. The informant and Cornell, 20, who lives in Green Township, near Cincinnati, first began communicating through Twitter in August 2014 and then through an instant-messaging platform separate from Twitter, according to the complaint.

“I believe we should meet up and make our own group in alliance with the Islamic State here and plan operations ourselves,” Cornell wrote in an instant message, according to the court document.

The two met in person in October in Cincinnati and again in November, the complaint states. Cornell told the informant in November that he considered the members of Congress enemies and intended to conduct an attack on the Capitol, according to the complaint. The document says Cornell discussed his plan for the two to travel to Washington and conduct reconnaissance of the security of government buildings, including the Capitol, before executing “a plan of attack.”

He planned for the two to detonate pipe bombs at and near the Capitol and then shoot and kill employees and officials, and Cornell had saved money to pay for the attack, according to the complaint.

Cornell was arrested after buying two semi-automatic rifles and about 600 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

Material from The New York Times is included in this report.