Police declined to provide details about how the investigation into the student's seemingly offhand remark led to the arrests.
Three men in Greece, two of whom are Eagle Scouts, are under arrest after police say they planned to attack an Islamic community outside of Binghamton.
A seemingly offhand remark in a high school lunchroom set off an investigation that uncovered an arsenal of weapons and a plot to attack a Muslim enclave in upstate NY, law enforcement officials said.
Andrew Crysel, 18, Vincent Vetromile, 19, and Brian Colaneri, 20, all residents of the Rochester-area have been charged with Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the first degree and Conspiracy in the fourth degree.
According to Phelan's account, after the complaint was made about the 16-year-old's comment, investigators interviewed the student as well as the student in the cellphone image, who was later was released.
Court papers say the men had multiple, cylinder-shaped explosive devices and mason jars wrapped in duct tape and were plotting to attack Islamberg, a rural Muslim enclave west of the Catskills.
The investigation was launched after comments made by the 16-year-old at school on Friday were overheard by a fellow student who notified authorities.
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At a press conference Tuesday, police chief Patrick Phelan from Greece, N.Y., a suburb outside Rochester, said the suspects assembled an arsenal including more than 20 firearms and three improvised explosive devices.
"They were homemade bombs with various items - black powder, BBs, nails, inside a container", he said. It was unclear whether they were capable of being detonated, he said, but they were sent to an Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, for further examination.
The rural community in Delaware County is run by The Muslims of America settled by followers of Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarik Gilani.
"If they had carried out this plot, which every indication is that they were going to, people would have died", Phelan said.
No federal terrorism charges have been filed.
A message seeking comment about the new arrests was sent to The Muslims of America. "The kid who initially said something to an adult saved people's lives".