Almost 60 Terrorist Plots Uncovered in the U.S. Since the Oklahoma City Bombing

Terror From the Right

Supporters of James Kopp picket for his release. (AP Wide World Photos)

1998

  January 29, 1998
An off-duty police officer is killed and a nurse terribly maimed when a nail-packed, remote-control bomb explodes outside a Birmingham, Ala., abortion facility, the New Woman All Women clinic. Letters to media outlets and officials claim responsibility in the name of the "Army of God," the same entity that took credit for the bombings of a clinic and a gay bar in the Atlanta area. The attack also will be linked to the fatal 1996 bombing of the Atlanta Olympics. Eric Robert Rudolph, a loner from North Carolina, is first identified as a suspect when witnesses spot his pickup truck fleeing the Birmingham bombing. But he is not caught until 2003. He ultimately pleads guilty to all four attacks in exchange for a life sentence.


February 23, 1998
Three men with links to a Ku Klux Klan group are arrested near East St. Louis, Ill., on weapons charges. The three, along with three other men arrested later, had formed a group called The New Order, patterned on a 1980s terror group called The Order (a.k.a. the Silent Brotherhood) that carried out assassinations and armored car heists. New Order members plotted to assassinate a federal judge and civil rights lawyer Morris Dees, blow up the Southern Poverty Law Center that Dees co-founded and other buildings, poison water supplies and rob banks. In the end, all six plead guilty or are convicted of weapons charges, drawing terms of up to seven years in federal prison. Wallace Weicherding, who came to a 1997 Dees speech with a concealed gun but turned back rather than pass through a metal detector, is freed in 2003. New Order leader Dennis McGiffen is released in July 2004, the last of the six to regain his freedom.


March 18, 1998
Three members of the North American Militia of Southwestern Michigan are arrested on firearms and other charges. Prosecutors say the men conspired to bomb federal buildings, a Kalamazoo television station and an interstate highway interchange, kill federal agents, assassinate politicians and attack aircraft at a National Guard base — attacks that were all to be funded by marijuana sales. The group's leader, Ken Carter, is a self-described member of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations. Carter pleads guilty, testifies against his former comrades, and is sentenced to five years in prison. The others, Randy Graham and Bradford Metcalf, go to trial and are ultimately handed sentences of 40 and 55 years, respectively. Carter is released from prison in 2002.


May 29, 1998
A day after stealing a water truck, three men shoot and kill a Cortez, Colo., police officer and wound two other officers as they try to stop the suspects during a road chase. After the gun battle, the three — Alan Monty Pilon, Robert Mason and Jason McVean — disappear into the canyons of the high desert. Mason will be found a week later, dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot. The skeletal remains of Pilon are found in October 1999 and show that he, too, died of a gunshot to the head, another apparent suicide. McVean is not found, but most authorities assume he died in the desert. Many officials believe the three men intended to use the water truck in some kind of terrorist attack, but the nature of their suspected plans is never learned.


July 1, 1998
Three men are charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction after threatening President Clinton and other federal officials with biological weapons. Officials say the men planned to use a cactus thorn coated with a toxin like anthrax and fired by a modified butane lighter to carry out the murders. One man is acquitted of the charges, but Jack Abbot Grebe, Jr., and Johnnie Wise — a 72-year-old man who attended meetings of the separatist Republic of Texas group — eventually are sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.


July 30, 1998
South Carolina militia member Paul T. Chastain is charged with weapons, explosives and drug violations after allegedly trying to trade drugs for a machine gun and enough C-4 plastic explosive to demolish a five-room house. The next year, Chastain pleads guilty to an array of charges, including threatening to kill Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh. He is sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.


October 23, 1998
Dr. Barnett Slepian is assassinated by a sniper as he converses with his wife and children in the kitchen of their Amherst, N.Y., home. Identified as a suspect shortly after the murder, James Charles Kopp flees to Mexico, driven and disguised by friend Jennifer Rock, and goes on to hide out in Ireland and France. Two fellow anti-abortion extremists, Loretta Marra and Dennis Malvasi, make plans to help Kopp secretly return. Kopp, also suspected in the earlier sniper woundings of four other physicians in Canada and upstate New York, is arrested in France as he picks up money wired by Marra and Malvasi. He eventually admits the shooting to a newspaper reporter — claiming that he only intended to wound Slepian — and is sentenced to 25 years in prison. Marra and Malvasi go to prison for almost three years after pleading guilty to federal charges related to harboring a fugitive.