The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Georgia Militiamen Arrested in Major Domestic Terror Plot

By Mark Potok on November 2, 2011 - 7:48 am, Posted in Domestic Terrorism, Patriot Groups

Four members of an unnamed North Georgia militia planned to attack cities including Atlanta with deadly ricin, bomb federal buildings and murder law enforcement officials and others, according to charges leveled yesterday.

The four elderly men were arrested after a lengthy investigation that began last March, when a confidential informant began secretly recording the group’s conversations. The man described as the group’s leader, 73-year-old Frederick Thomas, was recorded at a meeting that month allegedly saying, “There’s no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that’s highly illegal — murder. … When it comes to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die.”

Another member of the group, Samuel J. Crump, 68, allegedly said at a September meeting that he wanted to make 10 pounds of deadly ricin powder and disperse in a series of cities. He said that it could be blown out the windows of a car traveling down an interstate without harming the plotters. An affidavit said that Crump just last week said he was going to begin shelling castor beans, from which ricin is manufactured. Another alleged plotter, Ray H. Adams, 65, allegedly said he had a formula for making ricin and knew ways to get the needed ingredients. “I’d say the first ones that need to die is the ones in the government buildings,” Adams allegedly said during an April 2011 meeting.

The other man arrested yesterday was Dan Roberts, 67. Although the affidavit did not name any group the four men were affiliated with, the Southern Poverty Law Center has found records identifying a “Capt. Dan Roberts” as the contact for the 440th Squad of a militia group called the North Georgia Area Command. That command is part of the Georgia Militia, a group that has 19 chapters in that state.

At one meeting, Thomas allegedly discussed creating a “bucket list” of officials, politicians, business leaders and journalists who he thought should be “taken out” to “make the country right again.” He said, “I’ve been to war, and I’ve taken life before, and I can do it again,” according to the affidavit.

Thomas is also quoted as saying: “Let’s shoot the bastards that we discover are anti-American or enemies of America, treasonous. And to me the easiest and best way to do that is to walk up behind them with a suppressed .22. I am of the , uh, old school, Mafia; one behind the ear with a .22 is all you need. … Of course a .40 Smith and Wesson or .45 ACP is just as good, even better, [be]cause it makes the whole head explode.” At another point, discussing scouting buildings to bomb in Atlanta, he allegedly said, “We’d have to blow the whole building, like Timothy McVeigh.”

During a four-month period that ended when they were arrested on Monday, Thomas and Roberts negotiated with an undercover FBI agent to buy a silencer for a rifle, as well as a conversion kit to make the rifle fully automatic. According to the FBI, Thomas planned to use the silencer he was purchasing and said he would clean the rifle and use rubber gloves to conceal his fingerprints. As the negotiations dragged on, Thomas and Roberts expressed concerns that the undercover agent was a law enforcement officer, “but wanted to go forward with the transaction anyway,” according to an FBI statement.

Besides discussing ways to manufacture and distribute ricin, Crump also allegedly suggested that the group pursue financial backing to go to Africa to acquire the material needed to make botulin, a potent neurotoxin that can lead to paralysis. “We’d bring it back over here,” Crump said, according to an affidavit. “It’s more potent than the stuff [ricin].”

The authorities allege that Thomas planned to use an online novel, Absolved, as a model for the actions of his group, which he referred as the “covert group.” The novel, which describes a small group of Americans who attack federal officials, was written by Alabama resident Mike Vanderboegh, a long-time militia leader and, more recently, a founder of the Three Percenters, an antigovernment group. In the 1990s, Vanderboegh was associated with a series of antigovernment “Patriot” groups including the Alabama Constitutional Militia, the Tri-States Militia and the 1st Cavalry Regiment, Constitutional Militia. Earlier this year, he was also a Fox News analyst who specialized in criticizing the ATF for a botched investigation of Mexican gun-running.

Vanderboegh was the subject of a short blast of negative media attention in March 2010, when he called on opponents of health care reform to illegally attack Democratic Party office windows with bricks. “Break them NOW,” he wrote. “Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight.” In the following hours, windows were smashed in New York and Kansas in response to Vanderboegh’s call.

In the last few hours, Vanderboegh posted a whiney note, complaining of being “dragged into” the case. He also gives a brief description of the book. “My as-yet-unpublished novel Absolved, for the uninitiated, begins with the premise that the ATF, for political reasons of their own, has staged a deadly raid on the wrong Alabama good old boy from Winston County and what happens in the unintended consequences of that stupidity.” In the book, Vanderboegh compares his fictional scenario with deadly standoffs in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992, and Waco, Texas, in 1993.

The court affidavit says that the confidential informant accompanied Thomas and Roberts to “a meeting held in south Georgia on 04/30/2011.” The affidavit says nothing further about the meeting, but the Southern Poverty Law Center has records showing that a group called the Southeast Constitutional Militias held what was billed as a “Multi-State Meeting” that day at a location on private property “near Valdosta,” Ga. “We will be meeting to discuss collaborative and cohesive efforts throughout the Southeast to form a better united and communicative militia,” the group said, adding that militia men from Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama were expected.

The alleged North Georgia plot comes in the context of a Patriot movement that has been growing explosively since 2008, propelled chiefly by the election of a black president who represents the changing racial demographics of the country, and by the economy, which has caused many to look for scapegoats. According to the SPLC, the number of Patriot groups went from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009 to 824 in 2010; the count for this year is not yet complete.

chart of patriot group gowth

The plot is also the latest of approximately 100 domestic terrorist plots from the radical right since April 19, 1995, when Timothy McVeigh, another militia enthusiast, murdered 168 people in an Oklahoma federal building.

  • Regina

    Here where I live in Texas, these groups have infected and thrive within the community. On the outside, they do volunteer work and are community conscious. On the inside, they are nothing more than the Hillbilly Mafia. They are involved in every criminal degradation of society. Stupidly, they think they are doing something stealthy and that no one knows who they are. Since this is a small community, everyone knows who they are. They torture and harass people who don’t want to belong to their group. Most of those people end up with severe brain damage caused by one of their torture techniques or die by what looks like suicide. People here are too afraid to stand up to them. They will even let them into their homes to torture members of their family who don’t want to belong. Just to point this out, that’s white people hurting, torturing, killing and trying to control other white people. They may have a racially motivated hatred toward others but their violence doesn’t recognize color.

  • unoffiliated

    yes i agree with hardhat… you guys all sound like you just hate white ppl and christians. the hate spewing out of the ppk on this board makes me nauseous.
    “hatewatch”? this sounds like mccarthyism. you want to silence ppl? the old coots got arrested for terrorism- how far is what they wr sayin to what tyrone mixon is saying? i think you need a trip to jail tyrone.

  • Patient Zerobeat

    The people who advocate these empirically illogical “causes” are typically not the brightest bulbs. So it’s not as if they’re generally a well trained and intelligent group like Navy SEALS or anything like that, who would have the brains to really pull of something devastating.

    Criminals are often easily fooled by law enforcement, but it just takes some dumb luck to see the deed through and cause grief.

  • tyrone mixon

    It’s plain to me that most of these groups are so heavily infiltrated that they are really useless. I think the government just let’s them get all the rope they need to hang themselves (pun intended).

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Uh..Could you write that again, with coherency?

  • hardhat

    Haters of “Whites” gather here. NOTICE! Come join if you hate this race. Could it be more obvious?

  • ruben

    they conducted there meetings in public rather then in private!…..that just goes to show the mind set of these backwoods haters….obviously the community they live in sympathizes and probably supports what they were doing….with the recent storm of hate anything that is not white and conservative by the right you will see more old racist buzzards like these dummies pulling there klan suits out of mothball and trying to do something stupid with the blessing of most members of the communities they live in…..especially in the south.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Somewhere online there is an Al Qaeda terrorism “manual”; they recommend meetings in public. So it’s not unbelievable. Also, never underestimate the stupidity of these people.

  • Jane

    Erika, but the Waffle House serves coffee and pie at the same time these idiots discussed their secret plan.

    Exhibit two – they conducted their meetings in public at a restraunt rather than in private – that sort of defeats the purpoise of being a secret terrorist cell to discuss your terrorist acts in public.

  • hardhat

    Wait a couple of days, they will probably all end up dead so they can not talk. You know, like Oswald and those Navy Seals.

  • John

    The good news about these bozos is that they thought ricin is easy to manufacture and distribute — about as hard to do as cooking up a batch of moonshine in the back yard. Even though the recipe is simple, and even though ricin is as deadly as advertised, it’s really hard to make and turn into an effective weapon of mass destruction. We had (still have) hundreds of smart guys with lots of money at Fort Detrick working on bioweapons, and it’s not clear that they were all that successful — the reason we so quickly signed treaties to destroy them was that they didn’t have much deterrent value. The Russians’ own experiments showed the limitations of chemical warfare. If bioweapons worked as well as nukes for deterrence, we would have struggled for a lot longer to hang on to them.

    These guys belong in jail but I almost feel sorry for them because of their stupidity. If you didn’t know they were senior citizens, the affidavit’s description of their thought processes sounds like a bunch of eight year olds in somebody’s back yard forming a “Super Secret Evil Crime Club,” turning a swing set into their hideout and spending a few lazy afternoons trying to hatch a plot for world domination.

  • RRoberts

    I wish SPLC would show as much concern for all radical elements in this country and not just conservatives. Perhaps then they could have some credibility.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Naw man. You see, any Muslim that is involved in a terrorist act is not a TRUE Muslim, so religion has nothing to do with their actions. But for some reason(HINT: political correctness), the newsmedia is not telling us the religion of these people, like they don’t want to use the words “Christian” and “terrorist” together, because they are afraid. They know the influence of these radical Christians in America and they fear reprisals!!

    WAKE UP PEOPLE, WE’RE AT WAR HERE! Also we need to stop them from building more churches as well. I’m not saying all Christians are terrorists, but these churches represent a terrorist victory monument in the eyes of the enemy. We can’t allow that. We have to admit that Christianity is incompatible with the principles that the US was founded on. A good Christian cannot be a loyal American.

    (If you’ve read all that and it pisses you off, you’ve just had a taste of what it feels like to be Muslim. How did you like it? )

  • rashid

    Hmm, that could also include white Conservative Muslims, unless you assume that all conservative white men are christian?

  • Leslie

    This group wants to save the constitution by rewriting it and save the country by killing innocent citizens. Yeah, it makes so much sense.

  • Erika

    I’m sorry, but having read the affadavit in support of the charges, I have a hard time believing that Thomas and the Geriatric Covert Group would have been able to accomplish anything besides blowing themselves up if they actually were able to obtain high explosives.

    Exhibit one – the name of their secret terrorist group was the “Covert Group.” Can you imagine the meeting where they came up with that name? Were the other choices “Secret Group,” “Illegal Group,” “Conspiracy Group,” and “Underground Group?”

    Exhibit two – they conducted their meetings in public at a restraunt rather than in private – that sort of defeats the purpoise of being a secret terrorist cell to discuss your terrorist acts in public.

    Exhibit three – according to the affadavit most of the evidence against these fools comes from them voluntarily taping their conversations about their illegal activity.

    Exhibit Four – they got their idea from a “self published” internet only “book” – and would then direct people to the “book” to see what their plans were. Again, you call yourselves the Covert Group, yet you essentially have published your nefarious plans.

    About the only way these guys could have been more incompetent would be if they hired Wile E. Coyote as their munitions expert.

    Having said that, I’m glad they got caught because while they were likely too stupid to cause much damage, they were stupid enough to be a risk to the general public.

  • WW

    I’d bet the farm (I haven’t inherited yet) that these old racists rely on SS and Medicare from the government they detest.

    The graph speaks volumes about the dynamic(s) that precipitate the rise in numbers of these hate groups. We elect a Democrat, they skyrocket, the shrub takes office, they plummet.

    One evening (’97), as I was driving home from work in Dallas, I glanced at the car in the lane next to me. It was an older model Caddy, the driver was in his Klan garb, conehead and all. I was 40ish at the time and naively thought the KKK was something out of history books. The next day I asked my (Black) co-worker about it and she confirmed that they’re alive and continuing to meet. Silly me, I ASSumed we (White folks) had evolved. My bad. They don’t disappear through attrition as I once believed, they breed and instill their hate in offspring who perpetuate the family tradition.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    When are we going to stop being so damned politically incorrect and start profiling white, conservative males? These people want to hurt our nation and destroy our freedom! As is typical, the media has nothing to say about their religious beliefs. I’m guessing we have more followers of that “religion of peace”, Christianity.

  • CM

    In 1995, I watched three fully-robed Klan members (including former Imperial Wizard Daniel Carver) walk across the town square in Gainesville, Ga., on their way to the Hall County courthouse. They were headed there to contest a new sign ordinance that would have required Carver to take down a scurrilous lawn display that featured, among other things, several garden gnomes repainted as robed Klansmen preparing to lynch a caricature statuette of a black man.

    Stephens County is 30 or 40 miles farther up into the Northeast Georgia mountains, and some people in Hall County regard the inhabitants up that way as sheep-shagging, cousin-marrying troglodytes, apparently not without some justification.

  • ruben

    and the idiot in texas….crocket keller thinks that only muslims are a danger to america. but i guess these white right crazies is who he wants in his gun class……”saving the constitution”!!…you know that line is getting mighty old from these far right wingers,anytime they want to justify there hatred whether its racial,religious or political they throw out that tired old line that they are doing it to save the country and somehow the rest of us are supposed to turn our backs and let them do it….all i have to say is that these people are “nuts”…..but if this country needs to be saved from anyone it needs to be saved from all the idiot racist far right wingers like them.

  • kateb

    Interesting story. Talking Points Memo also reports that one of the four, Dan Roberts, “sued a number of local officials and a newspaper in federal court in relation to a 2004 “Southern Heritage” event he organized at a middle school that featured the Confederate flag. According to the lawsuit, he “co-sponsored and assisted in flag rallies organized by the Southern Rights Association [hereafter SRA]. He is widely known in the area as a flag supporter.”

    Roberts and three others sued local law enforcement, school officials, and the local paper for emotional distress and loss of income. The Toccoa Record reported: “The lawsuit stems from an incident in 2004 at Stephens County Middle School when several Southern Heritage protesters gathered outside of the school, displayed numerous Confederate and Georgia flags and held a rally. In the ensuing events, local law enforcement officers were called in as a safety precaution, a rock allegedly was thrown at a school bus with children inside and [one of Roberts' associates] was arrested and charged with felony obstruction and misdemeanor obstruction.”

    So, your basic “disturbed individuals not at all part of a pattern of right-wing terrorism, no sirree”.

  • ModerateMike

    Perhaps we should found a new activist group to contain the growing menace of senior citizens: Stop Aging of America.