The discovery in Texas of a huge arms cache, including a cyanide bomb, is a reminder that not all alleged terrorists are foreign
Last spring, as journalists scrambled to report the latest headlines from the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the global war against terrorism, they missed a remarkable bit of news from much closer to home. The focus on foreign terrorism apparently distracted the media from what was happening in Noonday, Texas.
It would be more than six months before a federal raid there that turned up 800 grams of nearly pure sodium cyanide ready to be fashioned into a deadly bomb, a "huge arsenal of military-style weapons," and tantalizing suggestions of a terrorist plot concocted by members of the American radical right, received more than a passing mention.
The cyanide bomb was almost ready to go. If it had been used, authorities say it was powerful enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square-foot building in minutes — a weapon of mass destruction reminiscent of the Oklahoma City bombing.
The case was not unique; there were a number of criminal cases last year that involved the domestic radical right. But it was remarkable — a stark reminder that terrorism doesn't only proceed from anti-American foreigners.
William Krar, 63, and his common-law wife Judith Bruey, 54, had stockpiled a cache of military weapons in three rented storage units in rural East Texas. The cache included a half a million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers, and remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases.
Anti-black, anti-Semitic, and antigovernment literature was found. The most disturbing were the books on how to make bombs and chemical weapons such as The Anarchist Cookbook, The Poor Man's James Bond, and Assorted Nasties.
Chemicals found during the April 10, 2003, search included containers of hydrochloric, nitric, and acetic acids, as well as the military-grade cyanide.
Krar's attorney, Tonda Curry, concedes that Krar owned and collected illegal weapons, but says he wasn't planning any antigovernment actions. Then why the chemicals?
"For the time being," she told the Report, "I cannot answer why on the chemical question, but I will say that neither the government's evidence nor any of my numerous conversations with my client have indicated in any way that there was any type of plot or plan by Mr. Krar or anyone else to do harm to this country."
The government disagrees.
"There's no other reason for anyone to possess that type of device other than to kill people," Brit Featherston, an assistant U.S. attorney, told one reporter. "The arsenal found in those searches had the capability of terrorizing a lot of people."
There's more. In the investigation of the case — a sprawling probe that ended up involving law enforcement agents around the country and some 150 subpoenas — prosecutors turned up a series of cryptic documents that appeared to detail some type of covert plan.
There were elaborate secret codes, a list of nine cities designated as "meeting places," what appeared to be a to-do list, and notes about fake IDs.
Neither Krar nor Bruey is talking. Curry says that Krar, who is being held in Texas' Smith County Jail, is cooperative with her and has expressed remorse. But he has not been cooperative with authorities, declining to explain his operations.
Last November, Krar pleaded guilty to possessing a dangerous chemical weapon, and faces up to life in prison. Bruey pleaded guilty to a lesser conspiracy charge and could receive up to five years. Sentencing is expected this spring.
Krar and Bruey — along with a second, much younger woman, who was apparently involved in some kind of love triangle with the couple — moved to Tyler, Texas, from New Hampshire.
In both states, they apparently operated what appeared to be a military surplus and guns business out of rented storage units, selling items ranging from pepper spray and smoke grenades to recycled clothing.
But it was Krar's alleged fake identification card business that got him and Bruey in trouble. In January 2002, Krar mailed a package of documents — including fake United Nations and Defense Intelligence Agency ID cards, a social security card, and birth certificates from three states — to Edward Feltus, 56, a self-described member of the New Jersey Militia. It was mistakenly delivered to a man in New York who, upon opening it, notified the authorities of its suspicious contents.
Federal law enforcement began surveillance on Krar's residence. In January 2003, a year after his package was intercepted, Krar was pulled over by a state trooper in Tennessee.
In Krar's rented vehicle, troopers found three military-style atropine injections, used as an antidote for several kinds of nerve gas; 16 knives; a stun gun; a smoke grenade; two handguns; handcuffs; seven marijuana cigarettes; and 41 bottles and a syringe containing unknown substances.
Also found were the series of notes that appeared to outline some kind of plot — notes that Krar claimed were actually a plan to help his girlfriend escape her abusive husband.
Krar told federal authorities he was the CEO of International Development Corp., or IDC America, a company that manufactures gun parts. He claimed the guns, a 9mm and a .22 handgun, were his own but denied knowledge of the other items. He said he hadn't sold firearms because his federal firearms license expired. Shortly after his Tennessee arrest, Krar posted bond and was free to go.
Authorities found discrepancies in Krar's story and a history of suspicious behavior. Krar had never had a federal firearms license. Nor did he have a Texas driver's license though he'd lived in the state for two years. His arrest record dated back to 1985, when he was found guilty of impersonating a police officer. It was also discovered that Krar had not filed federal income taxes since 1988.
In 1995, antigovernment activist Sean Bottoms was arrested in Tennessee with a large number of firearms, ammunition and bomb-making materials. Also found at the time was Krar's business card.
As a result, FBI agents began to monitor Krar and IDC America, which was then in Manchester, N.H. An informant told agents that a militia member known for his "strong and violent antigovernment views" had been spending time at IDC, which was co-owned by Bruey, and that he believed Krar provided weapons to white supremacist and militia groups.
In June 2001 a fire broke out at the storage facility in New Hampshire where Krar and Bruey were then storing their goods. The fire department was forced to break in to one of their lockers. Inside they discovered thousands of rounds of ammunition and four firearms, one of which was a modified automatic rifle.
Still, until 2002, Krar and Bruey managed to avoid serious trouble.
Since the raid in Noonday, the unincorporated area near Tyler where Krar's rental units were, federal agents, local police and prosecutors have worked to flesh out details of any alleged plot that may have been in the works.
It is likely that Krar did act as a kind of arms supplier to radical right groups, and the authorities have expressed worries that Krar might have supplied them with other sodium cyanide bombs or briefcase bombs.
For now, though, even as officials chase other leads turned up in the wide-ranging Krar investigation, whatever plan Krar and his associates may have had remains a mystery. What is clear, though, is that domestic terrorism and its suppliers are alive and well in the United States.