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Las Vegas man with ties to hate group accused of plotting to bomb synagogues, LGBTQ bar

Police handcuff suspect. (MaxPixel/Released)

In encrypted messaging with members of a white supremacist group, the Las Vegas man spoke about his disdain for Jewish people, minorities and the LGBTQ community.

Conor Climo’s right to free speech crossed the line when he discussed attacks on a local synagogue, and had planned to surveil a downtown Las Vegas bar that he believed catered to LGBTQ clientele, according to federal authorities who on Friday announced his arrest.

When authorities in an FBI-led task force served a search warrant Thursday — when Climo, 23, was arrested — they found a notebook with “hand-drawn schematics” for a possible attack in the Las Vegas area, and drawings of timed explosive devices, according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the district of Nevada.

Climo, a security guard, was being held on a charge of possession of an unregistered firearm, specifically the component parts of a destructive device, officials said. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to authorities, Climo also discussed manufacturing Molotov cocktails and improvised explosive devices. He’s also alleged to have tried to recruit a homeless person to conduct “pre-attack surveillance” on at least one Las Vegas synagogue and “other targets,” officials said, adding that his recruitment proved futile.

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The only security guard in Nevada registered with the same name appeared on a local TV news spot in 2016 when he took it upon himself — as a civilian — to patrol a Centennial Hills neighborhood. The man was armed with an AR-15 rifle with four 30-round magazines and a dagger.

When asked what he was looking for, according to the TV clip, he said, “People, they’re outside when they’re probably not supposed to be.”

“If there’s a possibly very determined enemy,” he said, pausing and tapping at the buttstock of the gun, “we have at least the means to deal with it.”

It wasn’t clear what type of threat to which he was referring. But in speaking to neighbors, in the news clip, he told one he would stay “within constitutional grounds” during his patrol.

A picture on a LinkedIn account under Conor Climo’s name matches the man in the news report, and his workplace matches the registration in the Nevada Private Investigators Licensing Board.

His license, which he obtained around the same time as the news report, is current until next year. According to the registration, he didn’t have a “firearm status.”

Climo’s employer didn’t immediately respond to messages.

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The National Socialist Movement hate group was founded in Detroit in 1994, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Until 2007, NSM members protested in full Nazi uniforms, now traded in for black ‘Battle Dress Uniforms,’” said the SPLC, an organization that monitors hate groups.

It wasn’t clear when Climo fell onto the FBI’s radar, but officials said Climo’s communication with the hate group occurred “throughout” this year.

Lone wolf attacks against Jewish, LGBTQ and minority communities aren’t unprecedented.

In October, an anti-Semite stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11. About three years earlier, a man in Orlando shot up Pulse Nightclub, slaying 49 members of the LGBTQ community.

A week ago, a self-described white nationalist allegedly attacked a packed Walmart in El Paso, Texas, leaving at least 22 dead and a couple dozen wounded. According to reports, the suspect confessed to targeting Mexicans in the binational border town.

“As this complaint illustrates, the FBI will always be proactive to combat threats that cross a line from free speech to potential violence,” said Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse of the FBI Las Vegas division, in a news release.

“Threats of violence motivated by hate and intended to intimidate or coerce our faith-based and LGBTQ communities have no place in this country,” added U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich for the district of Nevada.

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© 2019 the Las Vegas Sun