Arizona inmate, wife indicted in plot to bomb state prison

October 20, 2016 8:25 PM EDT

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By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona inmate and his wife have been indicted on terrorism and conspiracy charges in connection with a plot to build and explode a homemade bomb inside a state prison, court documents made public on Thursday showed.

The state grand jury indictment filed in Maricopa County Superior Court charged Thomas Bastian, 39, and Michelle Bastian, 49, with a scheme that state prosecutors said was intended to kill the prison warden or others at the sprawling Arizona State Prison Complex – Lewis.

The indictment, handed down on Tuesday, said the offenses were alleged to have occurred between May 1 and Oct. 12.

Michelle Bastian was arrested at her workplace last week on suspicion of terrorism and conspiracy for allegedly smuggling publications distributed by Islamist militant groups into her husband’s prison.

The indictment marked the first time Thomas Bastian had been charged in the suspected plot at the prison where he was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. A spokesman said he had since been moved to another Arizona prison.

According to a probable cause statement filed by the state Attorney General’s Office, the FBI discovered the bombing plot in September from a “known source” after earlier learning the inmate had become a radicalized Muslim.

The device would be intended to kill the warden or be placed in a prison vending machine in an area where inmates meet with visitors, authorities said.

An investigation revealed that Michelle Bastian was found to have provided information requested by her husband from al Qaeda- and Islamic State-linked publications, according to the statement filed in court.

Included in the information was a piece on how to build a bomb out of everyday kitchen materials, records showed.

The publications were located in Bastian’s prison cell along with a stack of detailed handwritten notes on how to build an improvised explosive device, according to court documents. It was unclear if any bomb-making materials were found.

Thomas Bastian was indicted on four counts of terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons and conspiracy to promote prison contraband.

Michelle Bastian also faces an additional charge of promoting prison contraband.

(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Cooney)

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