Georgia militia members arrested, accused of plotting ricin attack
They say the men also intended to deploy the deadly toxin ricin in some cities, including Atlanta; one suspect described a plan to blow the substance out of a moving car on the freeway.
The affidavits against the four men -- Frederick Thomas, 73, Dan Roberts, 67, Ray H. Adams, 65, and Samuel J. Crump, 68 -- do not specify the group to which they belonged, indicating only that they were "members of a fringe group of a known militia organization" called the "covert group," which held clandestine meetings in the northeast Georgia foothills.
Unbeknown to the men, the group was being monitored by a government source who recorded its meetings, and, later, by an undercover federal agent pretending to be an arms dealer.
"While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security," U.S. Atty. Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement.
One of the monitored meetings took place in March in Cleveland, Ga. In it, Thomas allegedly discussed a novel he had read on the Internet that described an antigovernment group's deadly attack on Justice Department attorneys.
"Now of course, that's just fiction, but that's a ... good idea," Thomas said, according to an affidavit.
Thomas went on to describe a "bucket list" of government workers, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media who he thought needed to be "taken out" to "make the country right again," according to the document.
"When it comes to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die," he allegedly said at one point.
Over subsequent meetings, the men discussed carrying out a number of criminal acts, including murder, theft and assassinations, according to a Justice Department statement, which described the evolution of the alleged plot from there in this way:
In May and June, Thomas and Roberts met with an undercover federal agent pretending to be a dealer in silencers and explosives. They agreed to buy some items; Thomas discussed how they would use them to get back at the government for "treasonous" activities.
In a September meeting of the group, Crump said he wanted to make 10 pounds of ricin to "disperse ... in various United States cities, including Atlanta," and "described a scenario for dispersing the ricin ... in which the toxin would be blown from a car traveling on the interstates."
Last month, Adams allegedly provided Crump with a sample of the beans used to make ricin. On Saturday, Crump told the informant he was going to "shell the beans that week."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested all four men Monday. Thomas and Roberts were charged with conspiracy to receive unregistered firearms. Crump and Adams were charged with attempting to produce a biological agent for use as a weapon.
--Richard Fausset in Atlanta
Photo: Atlanta-area freeways, I-85 is shown here in a 2005 photo, are notoriously crowded. A group of north Georgia men have been charged with plotting to release ricin on them. Credit: John Spink / Atlanta Journal-Constitution