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Judge Orders Detention for Christopher Cornell, Accused in Plot on U.S. Capitol

A magistrate judge said there was sufficient public danger to require detention.
Image: Christopher Cornell
Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, of Green Township, near Cincinnati, was arrested after he bought two M-15 semi-automatic rifles and about 600 rounds of ammunition and accused of planning to attack the U.S. Capitol.Butler County Sheriff

An Ohio man who federal authorities say wanted to set up an ISIS cell and allegedly plotted to attack the U.S. Capitol was ordered held without bail on Friday.

Magistrate Judge Stephanie Bowman said there was sufficient public danger to require detention. The FBI has said that the man, Christopher Cornell, bought two semiautomatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition before he was arrested Wednesday.

Federal officials told NBC News that the suspect was dealing with an undercover government informant the whole time and could not have executed an attack. He is accused of plotting to attack the Capitol with pipe bombs and shoot government officials as they exited the building.

Cornell’s lawyer, Karen Savir, told the judge that he wants to be called by his Muslim name, Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah. She asked the judge for house arrest. Ubaydah, 20, is barely an adult, does not drink or use drugs and has no passport, she said.

Tim Mangan, a federal prosecutor, argued that Ubaydah was a flight risk, and he cited hours of recorded conversations that he said indicated that Ubaydah took steps to advance the plot.

When Ubaydah walked into court, his father, John, said, “Don’t trust anyone.” The father was told by federal marshals that further talking would get him removed from the courtroom.

John Cornell has said that his son was coerced by an FBI “snitch” and never could have carried out the attack. He told reporters on Friday that he had recently had a conversation with his son about his future.

“He wanted a CEO job right out of high school,” the father said. “He wasn’t lost. He was searching.”


— Scott Newell and Erin McClam