Christopher Lee Cornell is a convicted domestic terrorist from Ohio who sought to carry out an attack on behalf of ISIS.Max Willens, “Christopher Lee Cornell Indicted On Federal Charges In Connection With Alleged Bomb Threat,” International Business Times, January 21, 2015, http://www.ibtimes.com/christopher-lee-cornell-indicted-federal-charges-connection-alleged-bomb-threat-1790768. On August 1, 2016, Cornell pled guilty to one count of attempting to kill government employees, one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.“Cincinnati-Area Man Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Charges,” U.S. Department of Justice, August 1, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/cincinnati-area-man-pleads-guilty-terrorism-charges. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison on December 5, 2016.Douglas Ernst, “‘Allah is in control, not this judge!’: Capitol terror plotter receives 30-year sentence,” Washington Times, December 5, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/5/christopher-l-cornell-capitol-terror-plotter-sente/. As he exited the court, Cornell yelled, “Allah is in control, not this judge!”Associated Press, “Ohio man accused of plot to attack U.S. Capitol shouts support for Allah in court,” Chicago Tribune, December 5, 2016, http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-us-capitol-plot-20161205-story.html?14809651491461.
Shortly after being sentenced, Cornell filed notice that he planned to appeal the court’s decision, a right which he waived as a part of the plea deal he signed in August 2016.Kevin Grasha, “Court: No appeal for Green Twp. man who admitted terror plot,” Citizen Times, May 12, 2017, http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2017/05/12/court-no-appeal-green-twp-man-who-admitted-terror-plot/101594284/. His appeal was dismissed by a Federal Appeals Court in May 2017.“Judges dismiss appeal for Green Township man convicted in terror plot,” WCPO Cincinnati, May 15 2017, http://www.wcpo.com/news/crime/christopher-lee-cornell-judges-dismiss-appeal-for-green-township-man-convicted-in-terror-plot.
Cornell’s documented history with violent extremism dates back to November 2014, when he told an FBI informant that he planned to attack the U.S. Capitol with pipe bombs and firearms.“Criminal Complaint,” United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, January 14, 2015, http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/opa/press-releases/attachments/2015/01/15/cornell_complaint.pdf. In May 2015, a federal grand jury also charged Cornell with attempting to provide material support to ISIS for his attempted operation on behalf of the terror group.“Cincinnati-Area Man Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIL,” U.S. Department of Justice, May 7, 2015, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/cincinnati-area-man-charged-attempting-provide-material-support-isil. According to Cornell’s plea agreement, he planned to carry out his attack during the State of the Union address on January 20, 2015.“Cincinnati-Area Man Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Charges,” U.S. Department of Justice, August 1, 2016, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/cincinnati-area-man-pleads-guilty-terrorism-charges. Cornell later told local media that he wanted to shoot President Barack Obama in the head.Dan Sewell, “US Capitol plot suspect pleads guilty to 3 counts in Ohio,” Associated Press, August 1, 2016, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/128828825bd8408f9ccc076c0fbe34c0/us-capitol-plot-suspect-due-court-plea-hearing.
Authorities charged Cornell with attempted murder of government officials, solicitation to commit a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm in connection with a crime of violence.“Capitol Bomb Suspect Christopher Lee Cornell Pleads Not Guilty,” NBC News, January 22, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/capitol-bomb-suspect-christopher-lee-cornell-pleads-not-guilty-n291436.
On January 22, 2015, Cornell pled not guilty to all charges.“Capitol Bomb Suspect Christopher Lee Cornell Pleads Not Guilty,” NBC News, January 22, 2015, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/capitol-bomb-suspect-christopher-lee-cornell-pleads-not-guilty-n291436. Following a mental evaluation, Cornell was judged to be competent to stand trial in April 2016.Associated Press, “Federal judge: Christopher Cornell is competent to stand trial,” WCPO Cincinnati, April 18, 2016, http://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/federal-judge-christopher-cornell-is-competent-to-stand-trial;
Dan Sewell, “Mental evaluation ordered for suspect in U.S. Capitol attack plot,” Washington Times, November 10, 2015, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/nov/10/judge-to-order-mental-evaluation-of-ohio-terror-pl/. In March of 2016, Cornell claimed to have renounced extremism, asserting in a letter written to his family that he is “just a kid who suffered from some problems, that [sic] made some bad decisions and stupid mistakes.”“US Capitol plotter Christopher Lee Cornell sentenced,” BBC News, December 5, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38215955. Cornell also wrote in his letter that he “hope[s] they [his family] can soon see the change in me… give me the help I need and allow me to get a second chance.”“US Capitol plotter Christopher Lee Cornell sentenced,” BBC News, December 5, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38215955.
While in prison, however, Cornell continued to urge others to “fight against the disbelieving people of America,” according to prosecutors.“US Capitol plotter Christopher Lee Cornell sentenced,” BBC News, December 5, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38215955. Cornell has also posted online after bypassing security on a prison computer. According to authorities, Cornell posted on an undisclosed website, soliciting help to exact retribution against his FBI informant.“US Capitol plotter Christopher Lee Cornell sentenced,” BBC News, December 5, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38215955.
Cornell is incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution, Fairton, in New Jersey.Federal Bureau of Prisons, Inmate Search for Christopher Cornell, https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/.