The FBI Joint Terrorism Task force just announced the arrests and charges in the case of a terrorist attack on a railroad in Bellingham, Washington.
Ellen Brennan Reiche, 27, and Samantha Frances Brooks, 23, were arrested on Saturday night after they were caught allegedly as they were placing a “shunt” on the railroad tracks.
A shunt can disrupt the train’s electrical signal and cause it to brake precipitously or disable its safety signals, the U.S. Attorney’s announcement explained.
“Since January there have been 41 incidents of shunts placed on the BNSF tracks in Whatcom and Skagit counties—causing crossing guards to malfunction, interfering with automatic breaking systems, and, in one case, causing the near-derailment of tanks of hazardous chemicals,” said U.S. Attorney Moran. “These crimes endanger our community. I commend the agents from Customs and Border Protection, FBI, BNSF Police, and state and local partners who prioritized stopping this criminal conduct.”
According to the criminal complaint, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has been investigating the placement of shunts on the BNSF tracks since January 19, 2020. The shunt is comprised of wire and magnets that are stretched between the tracks, disrupting the systems that indicate a train is on the tracks. On ten occasions, shunts were placed in areas that disrupt the crossing guards where the tracks cross streets, so vehicles could have tried to cross the tracks unaware of the oncoming train. On the night of October 11, 2020, multiple shunts were placed in three different locations in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. The shunts triggered an automatic breaking system on a train that was transporting hazardous and combustible material. The emergency breaking then caused a portion of the train to decouple from the engine. Decoupling has the potential to cause a derailment—in this case—of tanker cars of flammable gas in a residential area.
So they could have caused a derailment with tragic consequences had they caused a crash of such a tanker. Not to mention that they could kill people if the crossing guards that prevent people from driving onto the tracks were incapacitated by the shunts. How vile do you have to be to do that? Because their “cause” trumps any one else or any sense.
The US Attorney’s announcement notes that an anarchist website has taken responsibility for prior shunts on the track. The complaint identifies the site as ‘It’s Going Down.’
The complaint states, “This claim of responsibility stated that the shunting activity was carried out in solidarity with Native American tribes in Canada seeking to prevent the construction of an oil pipeline across British Columbia, and with the express goal of disrupting BNSF operations and supplies for the pipeline.”
Reiche tried to tell the police that they were “looking for her keys.” Except they were found with “had a paper bag containing wire, a drill with a brush head, and rubber gloves. The wire was similar to the wire used in the shunting incidents,” as Heavy notes.
Reiche had a sticker on her car with the map of the United States with the words over it, “Indigenous Land.”
Reiche previously had worked as a deputy field organizer for Washington State Democrats.