The Ohio man accused of plotting to bomb the U.S. Capitol appeared for the first time in federal court Thursday, where he pleaded not guilty to an array of charges that could put him in prison for life. Wearing a striped jump suit, dark shoulder-length hair and a scraggly bead, Christopher Lee Cornell sat in a Cincinnati courtroom packed with journalists, scanning the room for his family. He didn't say much, answering "yes" or "yeah" or "uh-huh" to the judge's questions about whether he understood the charges. His lawyer entered his not guilty plea. After about five minutes, he was escorted back to jail.
Cornell was arrested Jan. 14 after a five-month FBI investigation that authorities say uncovered a plot to set up an ISIS cell in the U.S. and detonate homemade pipe bombs and shoot workers at the U.S. Capitol. Cornell, 20, a Muslim convert who goes by the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, was charged with the attempted murder of government officials, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in connection with a crime of violence. He was arrested last week in Cincinnati after buying two M-15 semi-automatic rifles and about 600 rounds of ammunition, the FBI says.
His father, John Cornell, has said his son "never showed any signs of violence or anything," and that he must have been coerced by an FBI "snitch."