"Covert group" one ingredient away from deadly toxin | News
ATLANTA -- Four men who were indicted in alleged terror attacks had the weapons they wanted and were one ingredient away from making deadly toxin ricin, according to a criminal indictment.
Two days before they were arrested defendants Ray Adams and Samuel Crump said they needed just one more ingredient to produce ricin, according to the indictment. Adams said he needed one pound of lye and was ready to begin the process of making the deadly toxin.
On November 1, 2011, the day they were arrested, Frederick Thomas and Dan Roberts met with an undercover agent and gave him cash and a firearm and received a silencer and what they believed were explosives.
The indictment said Thomas had in his possession written instructions for detonating a destructive device.
The information in the indictment may be an indication why FBI agents arrested the four suspects when they did.
For the most part, the four senior citizens don't fit the profile of domestic terrorists. The youngest is 65, the oldest is 73. But one was on the radar of a watchdog group who monitors extreme activity.
Three of them had no history of extremism, but the Anti-Defamation League said one of them, Daniel Roberts, was on their radar for some time. "He's been on our radar as someone who is outside the main stream and appears to be an activist in the militia movement," said Bill Nigut, the Southeast Regional Director of the ADL.
Nigut said Roberts has been monitored at Georgia State flag rallies as far back as January 2001. "He also showed up at a middle school in the Metro Atlanta area because the school, he had read somewhere, had outlawed the symbol of the Confederate flag," Nigut said.
The four North Georgia men are accused of planning attacks on unnamed government officials with ricin and explosives. They indicated in court in Gainesville Wednesday that they wanted a bond hearing. The hearing, along with a preliminary hearing, will be held Nov. 9, once the defendants are appointed lawyers.
The men -- Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Dan Roberts, 67, of Toccoa, Ray Adams, 65, of Toccoa and Samuel Crump, 68, of Toccoa -- were arrested Tuesday. Authorities said the men were allegedly trying to obtain an explosive device and silencer and manufacture ricin for use in the attacks.
Thomas and Roberts are charged with conspiring to buy an explosive device and an illegal silencer to conduct attacks on government buildings. Adams and Crump have been charged with conspiring to carry out an attack with the deadly biological toxin ricin.
Court documents say the men intended to use the online novel "Absolved" as a script for a real-life wave of terror and assassination.
U.S. Attorney Sally Yates said the suspects, who called themselves the "covert group", had been under the close eye of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, who had an informant in the group.
"It started earlier this year when an informant talked to the FBI about information and conversations that he had overheard," Yates said. "He then began cooperating with the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force and recorded meetings with the four individuals charged today."
"These individuals were never at a point where they were actually able to carry this out without the FBI's knowledge," Yates added. ""They were monitoring this every step of the way."
According to a federal affidavit, Frederick Thomas made a trip to Atlanta to do surveillance on government buildings, including the ATF offices in DeKalb County and the IRS offices in Atlanta. Thomas openly discussed what he called a "bucket list" of targets. According to the affidavit the "bucket list" was "...a list of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media he feels needed to be "taken out" to "make the country right again."
During the trip to Atlanta, Thomas made the following statements according to the affidavit: "Let's shoot the bastards that we discover are anti-American or enemies of America, treasonous. And to me the easiest and best way to do that is to walk up behind them with a suppressed .22. I am of the, uh, old school, Mafia; one behind the ear with a .22 is all you need."
According to the affidavit, Thomas made the following statement: "I could shoot ATF and IRS all day long. All the judges and the DOJ (Department of Justice) and the attorneys and prosecutors."
They discussed plans to make and disburse the highly deadly biological toxin ricin in Atlanta by having it blown from a car traveling on the interstates, according to the affidavit.
Thomas is quoted in the affidavit from a recorded conversation with the informant: "There is no way for us, as militiamen, to save the country, to save Georgia, without doing something that's highly illegal. Murder. That's (expletive) illegal, but it's gotta be done. When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die."
While Thomas was doing surveillance on the federal buildings in Atlanta, he talked about using silencers to shoot people and explosives to blow up the buildings, according to the affidavit. "We'd have to blow the whole building, like Timothy McVeigh," Thomas is quoted as saying in the criminal complaint.
Yates said two of the men were trying to obtain C-4 explosives and two others had already acquired some of the ingredients to make ricin.
Local residents are shocked
Many of the 10,000 people who live in the picturesque North Georgia town of Toccoa are shocked by the arrests.
But perhaps no one is more shocked than Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley.
"I've known 'em for 34 years, and I am just like the community," he told 11Alive News on Tuesday.
Shirley still can't believe what he's read about the local men supposedly plotting to get toxic chemicals, explosives and weapons to assassinate federal, state and possibly local officials...like him.
"These are friends of mine," Shirley said.
No one would talk at the home of 67-year-old Dan Roberts who lives just outside town.
A neighbor who has known Roberts and his wife for 13 years didn't want to be identified, but told 11Alive News she can't believe it.
"They're just quiet people; they mind their own business," she said.
No one lives near the secluded home of 65-year-old Ray Adams, which sits well hidden off a dirt road several miles East of Toccoa.
Sam Crump, 68, lives with his sister in a home near town.
No one answered the door there, either, but a neighbor from across the street said he wants to see solid evidence before making up his mind.
"I'm not making any assumptions," said Phil Gruber.
"If Sam came to me tomorrow and needed help, I'd give it to him," he added.
Sheriff Shirley said as far as he knows, none of the men has been in trouble with the law, at least locally.
"Last week I would have said, 'No way'; senior citizens we're talking about," he added.
The oldest and the alleged ring leader, 73-year-old Frederick Thomas, lives about 40 miles away in Cleveland, which is in neighboring White County.
Many people around Toccoa point out that the men are innocent until proven guilty, but the Sheriff added, "Sometimes you just never know."