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Alabama teen free on bail after allegedly plotting 'terrorist attacks'

By Greg Botelho and Joe Sutton, CNN
January 8, 2013 -- Updated 1525 GMT (2325 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Derek Shrout, 17, is free after posting $75,000 bond set by an Alabama judge
  • He was arrested Saturday after a teacher found a journal that contained alleged terror plots
  • 6 students, 1 teacher were named as targets in his violent plot, a sheriff says
  • Shrout's lawyer says it was "just a lot of talk," claiming his client wouldn't hurt anyone

(CNN) -- An Alabama teen was released on bail Monday, two days after his arrest for allegedly plotting to launch "terrorist attacks" in his high school.

Derek Shrout was in a Russell County court Monday, where District Judge David Johnson set his bond at $75,000, prosecutor Buster Landreau said. According to CNN affiliates WRBL and WTVM, the teenager pleaded not guilty to attempted assault.

The 17-year-old was arrested after a teacher at Russell County High School found a journal that "contained several plans that looked like potential terrorist attacks, and attacks of violence and danger on the school," Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said on Saturday. "There were six students specifically named, and one teacher."

"He had put a lot of thought into this," the sheriff said. "It was obvious to us that there was more than just writing a story in a journal and it being fictitious."

Shrout's lawyer, Jeremy Armstrong, told reporters in court Monday that "this was just a lot of talk from my client."

"I believe he had no intentions ... to hurt anyone," Armstrong said to several media outlets, including WRBL.

This weekend, authorities showed reporters 25 tobacco tins and two larger ones, each with holes drilled in them and pellets inside similar to BBs.

Taylor said experts that his investigators consulted determined that, with a few more elements, the tins "would absolutely blow up exactly the way he wrote it."

"These ... devices were a step or two away from being ready to explode," the sheriff said.

The suspect is a self-described white supremacist, though it isn't known if he was linked to any specific group, Taylor told the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group.

"At first through JROTC, he was confident, well-rounded. But as time went by, he was doing the whole white power thing," David Kelly, the senior class president at Russell County High School, told WTVM.

Shrout began writing in the journal shortly after last month's massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school that ended with 27 people, including the suspected shooter, dead.

Taylor said that school shooting "was potentially the spark that started him writing things down in a plan."

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But Shrout's lawyer said he thinks his client's case may "have been blown a little out of proportion, in light of what happened in Newtown."

"Of course, everybody in our nation is on edge," Armstrong said.

Under the conditions set Monday by the judge, Shrout must remain at home and will have an electric monitoring device, said Landreau. He cannot contact anyone at his school.

His next court hearing is scheduled for February 12, according to Landreau.

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