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

Terror From the Right

Illinois officials' refusal to grant neo-Nazi leader Matt Hale a law license provokes a deadly rampage by a Hale follower. (AP Wide World Photos)

June 10, 1999
Officials arrest Alabama plumber Chris Scott Gilliam, a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, after he attempts to purchase 10 hand grenades from an undercover federal agent. Gilliam, who months earlier paraded in an extremist T-shirt in front of the Southern Poverty Law Center's offices in Montgomery, tells agents he planned to send mail bombs to targets in Washington, D.C. Agents searching his home find bomb-making manuals, white supremacist literature and an assault rifle. Gilliam pleads guilty to federal firearms charges and is sentenced to 10 years in prison. He is expected to be released in 2008.


July 1, 1999
A gay couple, Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder, are shot to death in bed at their home near Redding, Calif. Days later, after tracking purchases made on Mowder's stolen credit card, police arrest brothers Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams. At least one of the pair, Matthew Williams (both use their middle names), is an adherent of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity theology. Police soon learn that the brothers two weeks earlier carried out three synagogue arsons in Sacramento, along with the arson of an abortion clinic there. Both brothers, whose mother at one point refers in a conversation to her sons' victims as "two homos," eventually admit their guilt — in Matthew's case, in a newspaper interview. But Matthew, who at one point badly injures a guard in a surprise attack, commits suicide in jail in late 2002. Tyler, who pleads guilty to an array of charges in the case, is not expected to be eligible for parole for some 50 years.


July 2, 1999
Infuriated that neo-Nazi leader Matt Hale has just been denied his law license by Illinois officials, follower Benjamin Nathaniel Smith begins a three-day murder spree across Illinois and Indiana, shooting to death a black former college basketball coach and a Korean doctoral student and wounding nine other minorities. Smith kills himself as police close in during a car chase. Hale, leader of the World Church of the Creator, at first claims to barely know Smith. But it quickly emerges that Hale has recently given Smith his group's top award and, in fact, has spent some 16 hours on the phone with him in the two weeks before Smith's rampage. Conveniently, Hale receives a registered letter from Smith just days after his suicide, informing Hale that Smith is quitting the group because he now sees violence as the only answer.


August 10, 1999
Buford Furrow, a former member of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations who has been living with the widow of slain terrorist leader Bob Mathews, strides into a Jewish community center near Los Angeles and fires more than 70 bullets, wounding three boys, a teenage girl and a woman. He then drives into the San Fernando Valley and kills Filipino-American mailman Joseph Ileto. The next day, Furrow turns himself in, saying he intended to send "a wake-up call to America to kill Jews." Furrow, who has a history of mental illness, eventually pleads guilty and is sentenced to two life terms without parole, plus 110 years in prison.


November 5, 1999
FBI agents arrest James Kenneth Gluck in Tampa, Fla., after he wrote a 10-page letter to judges in Jefferson County, Colo., threatening to "wage biological warfare" on a county justice center. While searching his home, police find the materials needed to make ricin, one of the deadliest poisons known. Gluck later threatens a judge, claiming that he could kill 10,000 people with the chemical. After serving time in federal prison, Gluck is released in early 2001.


December 5, 1999
Two California men, both members of the San Joaquin Militia, are charged with conspiracy in connection with a plot to blow up two 12-million-gallon propane tanks, a television tower and an electrical substation in hopes of provoking an insurrection. In 2001, the former militia leader, Donald Rudolph, pleads guilty to plotting to kill a federal judge and blow up the propane tanks, and testifies against his former comrades. Kevin Ray Patterson and Charles Dennis Kiles are ultimately convicted of several charges in connection with the conspiracy. They are expected to be released from federal prison in 2021 and 2018, respectively.


December 8, 1999
Donald Beauregard, head of a militia coalition known as the Southeastern States Alliance, is charged with conspiracy, providing materials for a terrorist act and gun violations in connection with a plot to bomb energy facilities and cause power outages in Florida and Georgia. After pleading guilty to several charges, Beauregard, who once claimed to have discovered a secret map detailing a planned UN takeover mistakenly printed on a box of Trix cereal, is sentenced to five years in federal prison. He is released in 2004, a year after accomplice James Troy Diver is freed following a similar conviction.