The Georgia Ricin Plot


On Tuesday, the FBI busted a bizarre domestic terrorist cell composed of four angry Georgia septuagenarians who were planning to attack cities across the nation with chemical weapons.  From the L.A. Times:

Federal officials arrested four members of a Georgia militia group Tuesday, alleging that the men were planning to attack state and federal buildings with guns and explosives.

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.

The FBI used an informant and an undercover agent posing as an arms dealer to monitor the group before making the arrests.  These guys meant business, as a Chicago Tribune report makes clear:

At a meeting at Thomas’ house in March, Thomas said he had enough weapons to arm everyone at the table and that he had compiled a “Bucket List” of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and media members he felt needed to be “taken out” to “make the country right again,” according to court documents.

“There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save this country, to save Georgia, without doing something that’s highly, highly illegal. Murder,” Thomas said during the meeting, court records show.

During a meeting in September, Crump said he wanted to make 10 pounds of ricin and disperse it in various U.S. cities, according to prosecutors. Authorities said he described one scenario in which the toxin would be blown from a car traveling on Atlanta highways.

Last month, Adams allegedly gave Crump a sample of the beans used to produce ricin, prosecutors said.

Ricin can cause death from exposure to as little as a pinhead amount. Most victims die between 36 hours and 72 hours after exposure, and there is no known antidote.

They were supposedly motivated by an online novel called “Absolved” by Mike Vanderboegh, a dedicated gun-rights advocate who blogs at Sipsey Street Irregulars, which just happens to have been a leader in investigating Operation Fast and Furious while the mainstream press labored with furious intensity to avoid the story.  Naturally, Vanderboegh has been instantly transformed into an unindicted co-conspirator in the Georgia plot by certain liberal web sites.   Vanderboegh takes note of this in a blog post where he describes his novel as follows:

My as-yet-unpublished novel Absolved, for the uninitiated, begins with the premise that the ATF, for political agenda reasons of their own, has staged a deadly raid on the wrong Alabama good old boy from Winston County and what happens in the unintended consequences of that stupidity. There is nothing in there about ricin, or terrorist attacks on civilians (unless you count the forces of the federal government) or deliberate targeting of innocents. And did I mention that it is FICTION?

The L.A. Times notes that alleged terrorist Thomas also made this point:

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.

Curiously, early media reports are almost completely devoid of details about the background of the four suspects, or the “militia” group whose “fringe” they orbited.  Passing references are made to Thomas’ long Navy career when reporters quote his wife, who told the Associated Press, “He spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy.  He would not do anything against his country.”

Dan Roberts’ wife Margaret, who was handcuffed by FBI agents who appeared at her house with a search warrant, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she didn’t believe the charges, either:

Hours after her husband’s arrest, Margaret Roberts and her two children were still in disbelief over the charges filed against Dan Roberts. She said her husband had retired in recent years from the signage industry, and the couple was involved in animal rescue.

Margaret Roberts said she had never met Thomas, but acknowledged Thomas had called her home at least once, and believes she met Crump years ago, but wouldn’t recognize him now. She wasn’t familiar with Adams.

“I don’t know these people,” she said. “I can’t say anything about them, but I know Dan. Dan wouldn’t hurt a fly. And he is not anti-government. He respects the law.”

Margaret Roberts said she was still trying to piece together what transpired Tuesday, and couldn’t comprehend what had taken place at her home.

“It scared me to death,” she said. “Agents were walking around here with guns and rifles. It was something like out of the movies.”

MSNBC says Crump used to work for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta as a maintenance contractor, while Adams once worked for the USDA as a lab technician for the Agricultural Research Service.

The four men are scheduled to appear in court today, so more details may soon become available.