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Prosecutors: U.S. Troops At Fort Stewart Formed Militia, Plotted To Assassinate President Obama

Prosecutors in Georgia are charging several active duty members of the military, as well as acquaintances of theirs who are retired from the military, with plotting to form a militia and engage in acts of terror up to and including the assassination of the President:

LUDOWICI, Ga. — Four Army soldiers based in southeast Georgia killed a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect an anarchist militia group they formed that stockpiled assault weapons and plotted a range of anti-government attacks, prosecutors told a judge Monday.

Prosecutors in rural Long County, near the sprawling Army post Fort Stewart, said the militia group composed of active duty and former U.S. military members spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components and was serious enough to kill two people — former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York — by shooting them in the woods last December in order to keep its plans secret.

“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Superior Court judge. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.”

One of the Fort Stewart soldiers charged in the case, Army Pfc. Michael Burnett, also gave testimony that backed up many of the assertions made by prosecutors. The 26-year-old soldier pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter, illegal gang activity and other charges. He made a deal to cooperate with prosecutors in their case against the three other soldiers.

Prosecutors said the group called itself F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready. Pauley said authorities don’t know how many members the militia had.

Burnett, 26, said he knew the group’s leaders from serving with them at Fort Stewart. He agreed to testify against fellow soldiers Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, identified by prosecutors as the militia’s founder and leader, Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon.

All are charged by state authorities with malice murder, felony murder, criminal gang activity, aggravated assault and using a firearm while committing a felony. A hearing for the three soldiers was scheduled Thursday.

Prosecutors say Roark, 19, served with the four defendants in the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and became involved with the militia. Pauley said the group believed it had been betrayed by Roark, who left the Army two days before he was killed, and decided the ex-soldier and his girlfriend needed to be silenced.

Burnett testified that on the night of Dec. 4, he and the three other soldiers lured Roark and York to some woods a short distance from the Army post under the guise that they were going target shooting. He said Peden shot Roark’s girlfriend in the head while she was trying to get out of her car. Salmon, he said, made Roark get on his knees and shot him twice in the head. Burnett said Aguigui ordered the killings.

“A loose end is the way Isaac put it,” Burnett said.

(…)

Pauley said Aguigui funded the militia using $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife a year ago. Aguigui was not charged in his wife’s death, but Pauley told the judge her death was “highly suspicious.”

She 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.

There are also charges under the UCMJ pending against the active duty soldiers involved in this plot, but they have not proceeded forward as of this time. At first glance, it’s hard to say whether this was a serious plot or just a bunch of, well, soldiers playing solider, but the act that they were willing to murder to maintain the secrecy of this group, whatever it was, suggests that this was more than mere talk on their part. And, as Jay Bookman puts it, purchasing $87,000 worth of weaponry suggests that they were serious about this in some respect, even if the goals of the organization seem fanciful at first glance.

The military has had problems with white supremacist and other radical groups in the the ranks in the past, of course. Indeed, the man who shot up the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin last month had been in the military in the 90s and was believed to have developed some ties to white supremacist groups during that time. This incident would suggest that the problem still exists.

H/T: The Atlantic Wire

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Boyd says:

    As prosecutors have a tendency to overcharge and generally turn the people they accuse into caricatures of evil, it’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out.

    OTOH, if they were provably planning to assassinate the President, the death penalty is too easy for them. Unfortunately in this (potential) case, it’s the most we’ve got.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. Michael Gersh says:

    How did an anarchist group led by a hispanic man, who have been accused of murdering two whites, turn magically into a white supremacist group in the last paragraph in your piece? Doug, your standards have been slipping in the last few months. Resist the urge to make stuff up to suit your preconceived notions please.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 15

  3. James says:

    Michael beat me to the punch. I don’t see anything from that article suggesting white-supremacy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

  4. @Michael Gersh:

    I didn’t say this was a white supremacist group, I said that such groups have been a problem for the military in the past. Functionally, there really isn’t much difference between this “militia” and those groups, IMO

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  5. @Michael Gersh:

    In any case, I’ve added a few words to the final paragraph to make my point clear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  6. Rob in CT says:

    You gotta be effing kidding me. I really hope this is overblown. Really, really hope.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. rudderpedals says:

    Anarchists as in John Wilkes Booth, 1st WW Sarajevo, as opposed to summit protestors and Starbucks vandals?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  8. al-Ameda says:

    If this is true, it is sad and appalling.
    Enlisted men with $87,000 in weaponry? Sounds like there was a plan there. I wish I could say I am shocked, but I am definitely not shocked or surprised. Who could be?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  9. Ernieyeball says:

    Somehow I doubt this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they included “A well regulated Militia…” at the beginning of Amendment II.
    Militia is also mentioned in Amendment VI.

    There is more: Congress shall have the power…
    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

    The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States,
    ——
    The Constitution also gives a name to goons like these. They are Insurrectionists…and The Supreme Law of the Land provides for a way to get rid of them.

    Maybe today’s press could wise up and call them by the name they deserve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  10. wr says:

    But… But… But… When Janet Napolitano tried to release the Bush-commissioned report on right wing terrorist groups, Andrew Breitbart and just about every conservative blogger rose up screaming that there could never never never be such a thing, and this was just evil darkie Obama opressing the white man. So clearly the story is wrong.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 6

  11. Franklin says:

    I’d like to see the flowchart for how poisoning the apple crop in one state leads to the overthrow of the entire federal government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  12. Ha Nguyen says:

    Speaking as one from Wasthington State, what the hell does a group from Georgia have against apples from Washington?!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  13. Just Me says:

    But… But… But… When Janet Napolitano tried to release the Bush-commissioned report on right wing terrorist groups,

    Anarchists aren’t right wing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10

  14. Nikki says:

    @Boyd: They murdered two people. They will probably get the death penalty on that alone, nevermind the threat to the president.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Nikki says:

    @Just Me: Ok, then these guys must not be anarchists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  16. mattb says:

    @Just Me:

    Anarchists aren’t right wing.

    In a textbook sense, no they are not. But Anarchists has become a catch all phrase for individuals who want to overthrow the government. Without looking at their manifesto, it’s hard to attribute either a radical left wing or right wing label.

    And ultimately, the rush to make them left or right wing is just a further example of tribalism and score keeping in current political discourse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  17. Graham says:

    @Just Me: Most anarchists are also non-violent. The people you see throwing bricks through Starbucks windows are mostly disgruntled, disaffected kids looking to lash out, not people who thoughtfully subscribe to a political philosophy, and you can rest assured guys like the ones mentioned in this article simply want a different government, likely one with them on top.

    These guys, as Ernieyeball pointed out, are best labeled “insurrectionists”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  18. tps says:

    An ‘anarchist militia’? Oxymoron right there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  19. mtnrunner2 says:

    Way to go law enforcement, for catching the bad guys.

    I don’t care what lies those sociopaths told themselves to justify what they were doing; they are murderers, and nothing more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. Jeremy R says:

    http://gawker.com/5938288/leader-of-army-plot-to-assassinate-obama-apparently-attended-the-2008-republican-convention-as-a-page

    Leader of Army Plot to Assassinate Obama Apparently Attended the 2008 Republican Convention as a Page

    Isaac Aguigui, the Army private and alleged ringleader of a plot to assassinate Barack Obama and “take over” Ft. Stewart in Georgia, apparently served as a page at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota. That’s his mug shot after he was arrested for the alleged murder of Pvt. Michael Roark on the left. At right is a 2008 Reuters photo with the caption: “Republican National Convention page Isaac Aguigui watches from the edge of the floor at the start of the first session of the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota September 1, 2008.”

    Of course, there could be two Isaac Aguiguis who look startlingly alike. …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  21. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Nikki:

    There is a massive Army base in Washington, Ft. Lewis, and a large Army presence near the apple country in Yakima. I would speculate they may have friends here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. Miguel Madeira says:

    I am very doubtful about “anarchists” in the army – why an anarchist (both of left-wing or righ-wing variant) will join an organization that they see as the strong arm of the state? And in significant numbers, enough to creat a “militia” inside of the army?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. M. Bouffant says:

    @Miguel Madeira:
    From The Atlantic Wire:

    The news follows a controversial report published by Reuters’ Daniel Trotta last week that the U.S. Army is battling soldiers within its ranks who enlist in the Army and Marine Corps “to acquire the skills to overthrow what some call the ZOG – the Zionist Occupation Government. Get in, get trained and get out to brace for the coming race war.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  24. Stan says:

    @tps: They had plenty of them during the Spanish Civil War. Discipline was a problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. OGT says:

    This is definitely white supremist bullshit, I think I am going to start a group.
    of racially charged blacks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2