Investigators looking into the sabotage of power plants in the state of Washington have called on residents to help them track down those responsible for attacks that have raised fears of a campaign by right-wing extremists.
On Tuesday, local police didn’t release any information on who they suspected was responsible for the vandalism that left some 14,000 people without power over Christmas in Tacoma, a coastal area south of Seattle.
The Tacoma Utilities Company, which owns two of the targeted stations, said Sunday in a statement that the FBI had warned it in early December about threats to its electrical grid.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday it was investigating the incident, adding in a statement that it was aware of similar incidents elsewhere in Washington, Oregon and North Carolina.
The actions follow warnings by US officials that neo-Nazis threatening to ignite a race war may be behind the targeting of electricity infrastructure.
According to media outlets, the Department of Homeland Security reported in a January intelligence memo that extremists “have developed real and specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020”.
In early December, 45,000 homes and businesses in Moore County, North Carolina, were without power after someone used a gun to sabotage two power substations.
In February, three men with ties to neo-Nazis pleaded guilty in Ohio to planning to use guns and explosives to destroy electrical infrastructure at various locations.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said at the time that they planned “within the framework of promoting the doctrine of white supremacy to attack energy facilities in order to harm the economy and sow division in our country”.
And last year, five men suspected of being white supremacists and neo-Nazi Internet discussion groups were charged in North Carolina with plotting attacks on energy infrastructure.
The indictment said the attack was intended to create a general chaos as part of the group’s quest to establish a state for the white race.
The Washington Post reported that after Moore’s incident, authorities are investigating eight similar incidents in four states.