Come on, all you antigovernment militia members and wannabe guerrilla fighters. Surely, you can employ more stealth and cunning than three alleged domestic terrorists arrested recently in Georgia.
Brian Cannon and Cory Williamson appeared in federal court today in Rome, Ga., for a detention hearing after being arrested on federal weapons charges last weekend for allegedly trying to obtain pipe bombs and other explosives to launch a series of attacks on government facilities. The men were detained at the end of the hearing.
The third suspect, Terry Peace, is scheduled to make a court appearance on Feb. 24.
Their goal, according to a nine-page federal criminal complaint, was to force the declaration of martial law and spark a national uprising of militia groups.
“This case is a stark reminder of the threat we face not just from abroad, but from within our own borders from our own citizens,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said this afternoon in a press release. “When plans turn violent, law enforcement must step in to protect our communities from harm.”
The trio, the complaint alleges, hatched their plot “in online chat discussions, which were monitored by [the] FBI, during which they chatted about carrying out an operation against the government.”
Didn’t these guys ever hear of the NSA?
The plan called for a coordinated terror campaign that would cause mass hysteria and force the declaration of martial law, “therefore triggering other militias to join the fight.”
During one online chat in late January, Peace, 45, spoke about an attack that was set for February. In preparation for the mission, the complaint said, “Peace encouraged members of the militia to review guerilla warfare tactics, small unit tactics, accumulate supplies, and prepare family.”
Peace said that the “primary targets” in their “guerilla warfare” included the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Not only were their online chats being monitored by federal authorities, the FBI had at least two confidential human sources – CHS-1 and CHS-2 – on the inside of what the complaint calls a “militia.”
Cannon, 37, according to the complaint, had a conversation with one of the informants and “stated that ‘the group’ was planning to ‘start a fight’ with the government by strategically planning to sabotage power grids, transfer stations, and water treatment facilities.”
“Cannon,” the complaint added, “claimed too many militias were in a defensive mode and in order to get them out of the defensive posture, actions would have to take place to force martial law to be declared.”
Cannon invited the CHS to join “a private Facebook chat where plans were being made.”
But a participant in one of the chats – “a person using the moniker ‘Chief’” – said he had been “arguing with myself on what level of violence or what level of damage is acceptable.”
“I do not want to kill or injure fellow Americans,” Chief said. “So, at least for the guys with me we will restrain the violence toward people and target infrastructure. Then respond to violence with reciprocal violence.”
During an online chat with a CHS and Williamson, Williamson talked about some of the items the group needed for its mission. When the CHS asked if the list included ammunition and explosives, Williamson, 28, allegedly said he believed they were covered, but would ask.
On Feb. 8, the authorities recorded a telephone call between CHS-1 and Peace, who told the CHS “if he can hook us up with say 12 pipe bombs that will be sweet,” adding that he wanted the bombs constructed for “maximum fragmentation.”
A week later, the authorities observed the men loading rifles into a truck at the Rome, Ga., home of Peace. Then the men drove to Cartersvill, Ga., where they were scheduled to meet the CHS and take possession of the bombs.
Prior to the meeting, according to the complaint, FBI agents gave the CHS 12 inert pipe bombs and two thermite devices that the men believed were powerful enough to tear through an armored fighting vehicle.
When the men took possession of the inert devices and started loading them into their truck, the FBI swooped in and arrested them.
In addition to the rifles in the cab of the truck, Peace and Cannon were carrying pistols and wearing body armor.