Chris Cornell was arrested by FBI agents in Ohio on Wednesday after authorities learned that he was plotting a shooting and bombing attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Cornell, 20, considered members of Congress as “enemies,” and planned to travel to Washington to kill employees and officers working in and around the U.S. Capitol, according to a criminal complaint. Authorities said he had two semi-automatic rifles and about 600 rounds of ammunition, and planned to build and detonate pipe bombs.
Cornell is best known as the frontman of Seattle grunge rockers Soundgarden, and it’s possible that he may have been planning to use Soundgarden’s upcoming tour of Australia to smuggle the weapons to jihadists in that country, most likely hidden in guitar cases.
Investigators are studying the band’s lyrics to see if Cornell may have been using songs to spread the message of global jihad. For example, the track “Like Suicide” on the 1994 LP “Badmotorfinger” could have been a call for potential terrorists to embrace suicide bombing. And the 1996 album “Down On The Upside” contains tracks called “Blow Up The Outside World” and “Boot Camp,” a possible reference to terrorist training camps.
After a 14-year hiatus during which Cornell fronted Audioslave and pursued a solo career, Soundgarden reformed in 2012 to release the album “King Animal.” And it may have been this recording which alerted authorities to Cornell’s alleged terrorist ties. Alongside violence-themed tracks such as “Attrition” and “Blood On The Valley Floor,” investigators fear that a song called “Black Saturday” may have been intended as a signal to unleash a worldwide day of terror on a Saturday.
Soundgarden played several European dates last year, including gigs in Brussels, where an Islamist terrorist killed four people in an attack on a Jewish museum in May, and Paris, site of last week’s terrorist rampage. Authorities have so far not ruled out a connection between the band and those attacks.
Soundgarden fan Zadie Stark, 23, of Sacramento, said, “I can’t believe this is true. Chris is really a peace-loving guy. But when Obama was elected, Chris hoped it would restore America’s reputation in the world. That hasn’t happened and I guess he’s just really upset about it.”
According to Deon Currant, Professor of Music and Terror Studies at Duke University, Cornell is part of a storied cultural heritage of American rock musicians involved in terrorism.
“In the late 1960s, Carole King was allegedly a founding member of the Weather Underground, and Diana Ross was widely believed to be involved in procuring weapons and explosives for the Black Panthers,” Professor Currant told the Dandy Goat. “And intelligence sources have told me that after his split with Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon spent several years in the early 1970s as a getaway driver for a PLO assassination squad operating in France and Greece. And following her brief spell of chart success in the late ‘80s, Taylor Dayne is thought to have changed her name and moved to Sri Lanka to become an elite sniper with the Tamil Tigers.”