US & Canada

Four held over New York state 'plot' against Muslims

Vincent Vetromile, Brian Colaneri and Andrew Crysel Image copyright Greece Police Dept
Image caption Vincent Vetromile, Brian Colaneri and Andrew Crysel (L-R) and a 16-year-old are accused of planning a bomb attack

Three men and a teenage boy have been arrested and charged over an alleged plot against a small Islamic community in New York state.

The suspects are accused of possessing homemade bombs and firearms, and planning to attack Islamberg, founded by a Pakistani cleric in the 1980s.

The alleged plot was revealed following a tip-off from a school student.

The Islamberg community has become a target for conspiracy theorists who say it is a terrorist training camp.

The three men are due to appear in court on Wednesday.

Who are the accused?

They have been named as Andrew Crysel, 18, Vincent Vetromile, 19, and 20-year-old Brian Colaneri.

All are charged with criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy. A 16-year-old boy is also facing charges.

Police said at least three of them served together as boy scouts.

Investigators say the group, based in the town of Greece in the north-west of the state, made at least three improvised explosive devices using duct tape and large jars and cylinders containing nails and other projectiles.

The accused were found in the 16-year-old's home, police said. Some 23 firearms were also found at various locations.

Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan said the investigation was launched after comments made by the 16-year-old at school on Friday were overheard by a fellow student.

Islamberg

  • Located west of the Catskill mountains near the city of Binghamton, Islamberg is a Muslim enclave
  • Some 200 people live in the gated community, which local authorities and neighbours describe as peaceful
  • The mainly African American group settled there to escape crime and overcrowding in New York City in the 1980s
  • The hamlet is the base for the community organisation The Muslims of America
  • Right-wing conspiracy-led media outlets like Infowars have suggested without basis it is a training camp for Islamist militants

In 2017 Robert Doggart, from Tennessee, was jailed for plotting to burn down the Islamberg community's mosque two years earlier.

Also in 2015, Arizona man John Ritzheimer threatened the community with an armed confrontation.