Tags: War on Terrorism | capitol | attack | plot | father | radical | muslim

Capitol Attack Suspect's Father: FBI 'Coerced' His Son

By    |   Wednesday, 14 Jan 2015 08:49 PM

John Cornell, the father of 20-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell, said his son never indicated he had become radicalized and he never suspected he had planned a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The elder Cornell told CNN his son may have been set up by the FBI.

"I don't think Chris could hurt a fly. His best friend is our kitty cat. He's such a lovable, kind person," John Cornell said in a telephone interview from his Cincinnati home to CNN's "Erin Burnett Out Front."

Christopher Cornell still lived at home with his parents and brother and was still there when his parents went to bed at midnight Tuesday, his father told CNN.

Earlier in the evening he left the house with a friend, whom John Cornell suspects of being the FBI informant who turned his son in.

He came home two hours later, saying he had been to a mosque.

Cornell said he wife looked in on Christopher on Wednesday morning and saw he wasn't there. They found a note from him saying he had decided to move in with a friend who had offered him a job.

The younger Cornell had converted to Islam, and his father said he had initially asked him about it because he watches cable news regularly and was aware of the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaida trying to convert lone-wolf terrorists in the United States.

"He explained to me Islam wasn't a terrorist group. It was a way of life," his father said.

"He said, 'Dad, I guess you just got to let people ... Christians have different beliefs and you have to let people believe in what they believe in.'"

But his son never talked about ISIS, he said.

"The FBI had to be playing him all this time," the elder Cornell said. He said his son didn't have enough money to buy the gun or pipe bomb materials he is accused of purchasing, so he had to have had help in that effort.

His father didn't deny that Christopher Cornell pledged his allegiance to ISIS on Twitter or that he had made other threats, but he said these comments likely were made in anger and that the FBI should have arrested him at that time rather than leading him on in the plot.

John Cornell said his son only told him his Muslim name two days ago.

"He told me what it meant. It meant something about a journey and he was protected by God."

John Cornell told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" that the supposed plot made "no sense whatsoever," and that his son has always lived with his parents and has barely been out of state of Ohio.

"He very seldom left the house," he said and didn't even own a car. "There's no way he could have carried out any kind of terrorist plot."

"I think Chris was coerced into a lot of this," he said.

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John Cornell, the father of 20-year-old Christopher Lee Cornell, said his son never indicated he had become radicalized and he never suspected he had planned a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
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Wednesday, 14 Jan 2015 08:49 PM
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