'Armed Militia' of Soldiers Plotted to Take Over Army Base, Assassinate Obama [UPDATE]
According to this four-paragraph Associated Press story that raises more questions than it answers, four soldiers based in Georgia hatched an "anarchist" plot to assassinate Barack Obama and take control of Fort Stewart, and then allegedly killed a fellow soldier to keep their plans secret.
According to the story—which will hopefully be updated in short order—one of the accused, Pfc. Michael Burnett, pleaded guilty today in a Long County, Georgia courtroom to the murder of his former comrade Michael Roark and Roark's 17-year-old girlfriend.
Burnett told a Long County judge that Roark, who had just left the Army, knew of the militia group's plans and was killed because he was "a loose end."
Prosecutor Isabel Pauley says the group bought $87,000 worth of guns and bomb-making materials and plotted to take over Fort Stewart, bomb targets in nearby Savannah and Washington state, as well as assassinate the president.
That's a lot of money! More to come, I would imagine.
Update: And here's the more part. The AP says the militia called itself F.E.A.R.—Forever Enduring, Always Ready, and was led by Isaac Aguigui, one of the suspects in the Roark murders. Aguigui, an Army private, was reportedly the beneficiary of a $500,000 insurance settlement after the death of his pregnant wife. He used the money, the AP says, to recruit and finance the militia.
[Prosecutor Isabel Pauley] said Aguigui used the money to buy $87,000 worth of semiautomatic assault rifles, other guns and bomb components that were recovered from the accused soldiers' homes and from a storage locker. He also used the insurance payments to buy land for his militia group in Washington state, Pauley said.
In a videotaped interview with military investigators, Pauley said, Aguigui called himself "the nicest cold-blooded murderer you will ever meet." He used the Army to recruit militia members, who wore distinctive tattoos that resemble an anarchy symbol, she said. Prosecutors say they have no idea how many members belong to the group.
"All members of the group were on active-duty or were former members of the military," Pauley said. "He targeted soldiers who were in trouble or disillusioned."
The prosecutor said the militia group had big plans. It plotted to take over Fort Stewart by seizing its ammunition control point and talked of bombing the Forsyth Park fountain in nearby Savannah, she said. In Washington state, she added, the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state's apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia's goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president.
Prosecutors don't know how many members the group had. And aside from the vague reference to an "anarchy symbol" tattoo, there's no indication of what their political motivations were.
[Image via AP]