He Applied for a Gov’t Job—Then Fessed Up to Terror Plots on the Polygraph Test: Feds

·4 min read
Dima Korotayev/Getty
Dima Korotayev/Getty

Despite his dogged efforts, Ethan Collins will not be getting a job with the federal government.

After three failed polygraph examinations while applying for a government gig, the Colorado resident finally admitted he actually hates the U.S. government and has an affinity for terrorism, revealing he had been planning for months to “take down” several buildings. Then he disclosed his support for mass destruction—like the Nashville bombing and ISIS attacks, federal prosecutors said.

“Collins considers himself as a patriot, not a terrorist, but at one point during the interview did state he felt he was a terrorist. Collins said he has spent a lot of time thinking about how easy it would be,” according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in Colorado.

Court records indicate that Collins was arrested in Utah on Feb. 8 and charged with several crimes, including unlawful possession of a firearm and firearms silencers. A federal judge there originally ordered Collins’ release, but Colorado federal prosecutors successfully filed a motion to keep him in custody.

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Prosecutors allege that in May 2020, Collins applied for a position with a “particular federal government agency” that required a background check and a polygraph. After the three failed exams, Collins allegedly revealed his previous plans to “take down” a handful of potential targets in the state, including the electrical power grid, the Federal Reserve, and several police stations in Denver.

These fanciful plans, according to prosecutors, all began after Collins’ salary was cut in half and his hours as a pilot reduced amid the lockdowns to mitigate the spread of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown only stoked his anger toward both the government and law enforcement—and spurred his plan to first disrupt the power grid, prosecutors alleged.

To sabotage the power grid, Collins allegedly admitted to studying transmission lines, which led him to determine that “some type of powerful explosion would be needed to destroy them, but he did not have access to such explosives.”

“Collins stated that he believed that the power stations he identified operated using General Electric Natural Gas turbines and could be disabled by throwing a wrench or some other large metallic object into the turbine,” the affidavit states. “Collins said that his work and experience as a pilot provided him with familiarity with turbines.”

But Collins ultimately decided against the plan because “cutting off the power would likely lead to a great loss of life of civilians,” and he only wanted to target “government and law enforcement.” Collins also conceded he lacked the manpower and support to carry out the plan, which involved 72 people and 11 cars split into teams.

The affidavit states that after his failed power plant plan, Collins looked into the Federal Reserve building in Denver and state data centers as other “potential targets.” Collins allegedly said he wanted to hit the Federal Reserve after they intentionally created inflation to “cripple the U.S. economy” and the data centers because “they contained all the Colorado driver’s license information for the state.”

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“Collins believed if the data centers were taken down, driver’s license information would not be available for law enforcement to see who you were,” the affidavit states, adding that he also wanted to target police stations so officers could not respond to his other planned attacks.

Prosecutors say Collins not only admitted to the failed plots during his polygraph exam—but shared his admiration for other criminal enterprises, including ISIS and their “courage and conviction to bring their vision of a society into existence through force.” He told authorities he does not believe in their “ideology and their use of torture, rape, and murder.”

“Collins discussed the bombing in downtown Nashville that occurred on Christmas day 2020,” the affidavit states. “Collins felt that the bomber was not a terrorist because he did not target innocent civilians. He described the bomber as a genius.”

The Colorado resident also allegedly revealed his belief that the 14 individuals arrested for plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last August were “justified... if they arrested her and put her on trial for violating their rights as American citizens.”

After Collins’ stunning rant against the government and law enforcers, the polygraph examiner asked him what he would do if he got hired by the federal agency where he was seeking employment. “Collins stated that ‘you would need to watch your back’ and that he upholds the Constitution, adding that the agency’s ‘mission is one of the few government duties that is legitimate and that 80 percent of the government should be abolished,’” the affidavit states.

Nearly three weeks after his bizarre confession to a polygraph examiner, law enforcement searched Collins’ house using the address he listed in his federal employment form. At his Centennial home about 20 minutes outside of Denver, officers found three black pipe-shaped silencers, seven firearms, ammunition, and ballistic gear. Collins told officers he made the silencers, which were unregistered.

The Department of Justice declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment. A lawyer for Collins did not respond to a request for comment.

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