The Oklahoma City bombing has proven to be the opening shot in a new phase of right-wing terror in this country. In the three years since the attack, the radical right's antigovernment movement has spawned an escalating number of terrorist crimes and plots.
The April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing has proven to be the opening shot in a new phase of right-wing terror in this country. In the three years since the attack that left 168 people dead, the radical right's antigovernment movement has spawned an escalating number of terrorist crimes and plots.
Conspiracies hatched since the Oklahoma City attack have included plans to bomb buildings, banks, refineries, utilities, clinics and bridges; assassinate politicians, judges, civil rights figures and others; attack Army bases, National Guard armories and a train; rob banks, armored cars and individuals; amass illegal machine guns, missiles and explosives; and engage in huge tax and financial schemes.
Law enforcement officers and others have been killed and injured. The FBI, which just before Oklahoma City had about 100 open domestic terrorism cases, is now working more than 900. Almost every major law enforcement agency has developed a task force or other unit aimed at combating the threat.
Here is a look at key incidents of the last three years:
Sept. 12, 1995 Antigovernment extremist Charles Ray Polk is indicted by a federal grand jury for plotting to blow up the Internal Revenue Service building in Austin, Tex. At the time of his arrest, Polk is trying to purchase plastic explosives to add to a huge illegal arsenal he's already amassed. He is sentenced the following year to almost 21 years in federal prison.
Oct. 9, 1995 Saboteurs derail an Amtrak passenger train near Hyder, Ariz., killing one person and injuring scores of others. An antigovernment message, signed by the "Sons of Gestapo," is left behind. The perpetrators are still at large.
Nov. 9, 1995 Oklahoma Constitutional Militia leader Willie Ray Lampley, his wife and another man are arrested as they prepare explosives to bomb numerous targets, including the Southern Poverty Law Center. The three, and another suspect arrested later, are sentenced to terms of up to 11 years in 1996.
Jan. 19, 1996 Peter Langan and Richard Guthrie, members of the underground Aryan Republican Army, are charged as the main suspects in a string of 22 bank robberies in seven Midwestern states. After pleading guilty and agreeing to testify, Guthrie commits suicide in his cell. Langan is convicted in five robberies, with more trials scheduled.
Eventually, Mark Thomas, a leading neo-Nazi in Pennsylvania, pleads guilty for his role in helping organize the robberies and agrees to testify against Langan and other gang members. Another man, Kevin McCarthy, also pleads guilty to conspiracy charges in Pennsylvania and agrees to testify against his co-conspirators.
April 11, 1996 Antigovernment activist Ray Hamblin is charged with illegal possession of explosives after authorities find 460 pounds of the high explosive Tovex, 746 pounds of ANFO blasting agent and 15 homemade hand grenades on his property in Hood River, Ore. Hamblin is sentenced to almost four years in federal prison.
April 26, 1996 Two leaders of the Militia-at-Large of the Republic of Georgia, Robert Edward Starr III and William James McCranie Jr., are charged with manufacturing shrapnel bombs for distribution to militia members. Later in the year, they are sentenced on explosives charges to terms of up to eight years.
Another Militia-at-Large member, accused of training a team to assassinate politicians, is convicted of conspiracy.
June 11, 1996 Tax protester Joseph Martin Bailie is arrested for trying to blow up the Internal Revenue Service building in Reno, Nev. He is sentenced to 36 years.
June 13, 1996 An 81-day armed standoff between a group of Montana Freemen and federal authorities ends near Jordan, Mont. The standoff began after Freemen leaders LeRoy Schweitzer and Daniel Petersen were charged with millions of dollars' worth of bank, financial and mail fraud, and with threatening public officials.
In March 1998, five Freemen followers are convicted of charges related to the robbery of a television camera, being fugitives and making false tax claims. The Freemen leaders, including Schweitzer and Petersen, are scheduled for trial on May 26.
July 1, 1996 Twelve members of an Arizona militia group called the Viper Team are arrested on federal conspiracy, weapons and explosives charges after allegedly surveilling government buildings as potential targets. Ten members plead guilty to various charges, drawing sentences of up to nine years in prison.
One is acquitted of explosives charges while a mistrial is declared on conspiracy charges against him. The last defendant is convicted for conspiracy and sentenced to almost six years.
July 27, 1996 A nail-packed bomb goes off at the Atlanta Olympics, seen by many extremists as part of a satanic New World Order, killing one person and injuring more than 100 others. No suspects have been arrested, although investigators believe the attack may be linked to 1997-98 bombings of an Atlanta area abortion clinic, an Atlanta lesbian bar and a Birmingham, Ala., abortion facility.
July 29, 1996 Washington State Militia leader John Pitner and seven others are arrested on weapons and explosives charges in connection with a plot to build pipe bombs for a confrontation with the federal government. Pitner and four others are convicted on weapons charges. Conspiracy charges against the eight end in a mistrial.
Pitner's retrial is postponed, and no new trial date is set. Three others draw sentences of up to almost four years.
Oct. 8, 1996 Three Phineas Priests — racist Christian Identity terrorists who feel they've been called by God to undertake violent attacks — are charged in connection with two bank robberies and bombings at the banks, a Spokane newspaper and a Planned Parenthood office.
Charles Barbee, Robert Berry and Jay Merrell are eventually convicted and sentenced to life terms. Brian Ratigan, a fourth member of the group arrested separately, draws a 55-year term.
Oct. 11, 1996 Seven members of the Mountaineer Militia are arrested in an alleged plot to blow up the FBI's national fingerprint records center in West Virginia. In 1998, leader Floyd "Ray" Looker, is sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Two other defendants are sentenced on explosives charges and a third draws a year in prison for providing blueprints of the FBI facility to Looker, who sold them to a government informant. Two other men are acquitted, and the seventh defendant is awaiting sentencing.
Jan. 16, 1997 Two anti-personnel bombs explode outside an abortion clinic in Sandy Springs, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. Seven people are injured. No suspects are arrested, but letters sent by the Army of God claim responsibility for this attack and another, a month later, at an Atlanta lesbian bar.
The attacks are believed to be linked to the 1998 bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., abortion clinic, and possibly to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing.
Jan. 24, 1997 Authorities raid the Martinton, Ill., home of former Marine Ricky Salyers, an alleged white supremacist and Ku Klux Klan member, discovering 35,000 rounds of heavy ammunition, armor-piercing shells, smoke and tear gas grenades, live shells for grenade launchers, artillery shells and other military gear.
Salyers, an alleged member of the underground Black Dawn group of extremists in the military, is charged with five felony and six misdemeanor weapons violations.
March 26, 1997 Militia activist Brendon Blasz is arrested in Kalamazoo, Mich., and charged with making pipe bombs and other illegal explosives. Blasz allegedly plotted to bomb the federal building in Battle Creek, the IRS building in Portage, a Kalamazoo television station and federal armories.
Prosecutors recommend leniency on his explosives conviction after Blasz renounces his antigovernment beliefs and cooperates with them. He is sentenced to more than three years in federal prison.
April 23, 1997 Florida police arrest Todd Vanbiber, an alleged member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and the shadowy League of the Silent Soldier, after he accidentally sets off pipe bombs he was building. Officials find a League terrorism manual and extremist literature in Vanbiber's possession.
Along with three others arrested in May 1998, he is accused of plotting to use the bombs as part of a string of bank robberies. Vanbiber pleads guilty to weapons and explosives charges and is sentenced to more than six years in federal prison.
April 22, 1997 Three Ku Klux Klan members are arrested in a plot to blow up a natural gas refinery outside Fort Worth, Texas. The three, along with a fourth arrested later, planned to blow up the refinery, killing hundreds of people including children at a nearby school, as a diversion for a simultaneous armored car robbery. All four plead guilty to conspiracy charges and are sentenced to terms of up to 20 years.
April 27, 1997 After a cache of explosives stored in a tree blows up near Yuba City, Calif., police arrest Montana Freemen supporter William Robert Goehler. Investigators looking into the blast arrest two Goehler associates, one of them a militia leader, after finding 500 pounds of petrogel explosives — enough to level three city blocks — in a motor home parked outside their residence.
Six others are arrested on related charges. Goehler, who had previously been convicted of rape, burglary and assault, is sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. An associate is sentenced to three years.
May 3, 1997 A week-long standoff between Texas police and antigovernment separatists ends with the surrender of Republic of Texas leader Richard McLaren and four followers. The standoff began after members of the group kidnapped a neighbor couple, injuring the man.
After the surrender, a sixth Republic member is killed in a gun battle with police, while a seventh eludes authorities for four months before being captured. McLaren is sentenced to 99 years in prison.
July 4, 1997 Two heavily armed antigovernment activists are arrested before dawn near Fort Hood, in central Texas, hours before they allegedly planned to invade the Army base and slaughter foreign troops they mistakenly believed were housed there.
In the next few days, five other people are arrested as part of the alleged plot to invade a series of military bases where the group thought United Nations forces were massing for an assault on Americans. All seven are part of a splinter group of the Third Continental Congress, a gathering of militia advocates.
They are charged with a variety of weapons and explosives violations.
July 30, 1997 Three Nevada men are charged with conspiracy and manufacturing and selling machine guns, pipe bombs and other explosives in connection with an alleged plot to attack the government. Two of the men, Griffith Evan Rausch Jr. and Kevin Patrick Storms, worked for a local sheriff's department and considered themselves part of the extremist antigovernment movement.
Storms and his brother, Robert Storms, are awaiting sentencing on weapons or explosives convictions.
Dec. 12, 1997 A federal grand jury in Arkansas indicts three men on racketeering charges for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government and create a whites-only Aryan People's Republic, which they intended to boost through polygamy. Chevie Kehoe, Daniel Lee and Faron Lovelace are accused of crimes in six states, including murder, kidnapping, robbery and conspiracy.
Kehoe and Lee also face state charges of murdering an Arkansas family, including an 8-year-old girl. Lovelace was earlier convicted of killing a man he believed to be an informant. Separately, Kehoe's brother, Cheyne, is convicted of attempted murder in a shootout with police.
Jan. 29, 1998 An off-duty police officer is killed and nurse Emily Lyons is critically injured when a nail-packed 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 group that took credit for the bombing of a clinic and a lesbian bar in the Atlanta area.
The attack may also be linked to the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Olympics. A suspect, Eric Robert Rudolph, remains at large. Rudolph is believed to be an adherent of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity religion and a follower of the late Identity leader, Nord Davis.
Feb. 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 two men arrested later, allegedly 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 five cities' water supplies and rob banks.
March 18, 1998 Three members of the North American Militia of Southwestern Michigan are arrested on firearms charges. They allegedly conspired to bomb federal buildings, a Kalamazoo television station and an interstate highway interchange, kill federal agents, and attack aircraft at a National Guard base.
The group's leader, Ken Carter, has described himself as a member of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations.