CINCINNATI — A man accused of plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol called a television station from jail and said if he hadn't been arrested he would have gone to Washington and shot President Barack Obama in the head.
WXIX-TV in Cincinnati said Christopher Lee Cornell called it from the Kentucky jail where he's being held, confessed to being a supporter of the Islamic State group and said he planned to kill government officials in retaliation for U.S. strikes on the militant organization.
The station aired part of the interview Friday night, hours after Cornell's attorney argued unsuccessfully in court that it could violate the defendant's right to a fair trial.
Cornell, asked by the interviewer what he would have done had he not been arrested in January, said he would have taken one of his guns, "I would have put it to Obama's head, I would have pulled the trigger, then I would unleash more bullets on the Senate and House of Representative members, and I would have attacked the Israeli embassy and various other buildings."
Cornell, who repeatedly identified himself as Muslim, said he wanted to carry out the attack because of "the continued American aggression against our people and the fact that America, specifically President Obama, wants to wage war against Islamic State."
He said: "They might say I'm a terrorist, but you know we see American troops as terrorists as well, coming to our land, stealing our resources and killing our people, raping our women."
Cornell, 20, grew up in the Cincinnati suburbs and still lived with his parents. He said support of the Islamic State group is widespread.
"We're here in Ohio. We're in every state," he said. "We're more organized than you think."
At times what seemed like a nervous chuckle punctuated his responses. He said he would do whatever the Islamic State group asked of him, including beheading Americans, and predicted "there will be many, many attacks."
A federal indictment charges Cornell with two counts that carry possible sentences of up to 20 years each upon conviction: attempted murder of government employees and officials and solicitation to commit a crime of violence. He also faces a firearms-related charge. He has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial in Cincinnati.
Cornell was arrested outside a gun shop near his home on Jan. 14 after the FBI said he bought two M-15 assault weapons and 600 rounds of ammunition. The FBI said in court documents that Cornell planned to "wage jihad" by attacking the Capitol with pipe bombs and shooting government officials and employees.
Cornell was coerced and misled by "a snitch" trying to better his own legal situation, his father said.
Stacy reported from Columbus.