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10 Right-Wing Extremist Plots That Failed Miserably
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were 784 known hate groups operating in the United States as of 2014. They’re mostly right-wing groups, white supremacist groups, or both. The crimes of their members range from random acts of violence to organized domestic terrorism plots.
Sometimes, these individuals and groups want more than to commit acts of violence. Sometimes, they try to plan full-scale uprisings or form revolutionary groups. Here are 10 such attempts, ranging from the absurd to the chillingly orchestrated.
10 Chevie Kehoe And The Aryan People’s Republic
Chevie Kehoe, Daniel Lee, and Faron Lovelace were charged in 1997 with planning to overthrow the US government and take over territory to make a “new republic limited to whites.”
Accused of involvement in five murders, the attempted murder of police officers, making bombs, armed robberies, burglaries, and selling stolen property, Kehoe also allegedly bombed a city hall in Spokane, Washington. The crime that brought him to justice was a triple murder in Arkansas where he broke into the house of William and Nancy Mueller and killed them and their eight-year-old daughter. His main target was the family’s collection of gold, firearms, ammunition, and militia gear. After stealing a trailer, Kehoe and his cohorts, neo-Nazi skinhead Danny Lee and federal prison escapee Faron Lovelace, made for Elohim City, a compound of religious extremists in Oklahoma.
When the Muellers’ bodies were found, evidence at the scene led to Kehoe. On February 15, 1997, two Ohio police officers pulled him and his brother Cheyne over, sparking a series of gunfights and a nationwide manhunt. Kehoe and his cronies might have remained free, but then Chevie went too far and began to talk of killing his own family for their collection of guns. When he developed an interest in Cheyne’s wife, his brother fled and turned himself in. In June 1997, Cheyne drew a map that led authorities to Chevie.
Cheyne received a 24-year prison sentence in spite of police requests for leniency and was hidden for fear of reprisal from white supremacists. Faron Lovelace accepted an offer of life in prison without parole, while Daniel Lee was sentenced to death. Chevie Kehoe was sentenced to life in prison.
9 Kevin Ray Patterson And Charles Dennis Kiles
Kevin Ray Patterson and Charles Dennis had long been active in extremist groups and militias. Patterson was involved in groups such as the Texas Constitutional Militia and the Republic of Texas, while Kiles was a former member of the Sacramento County Militia and had been convicted on illegal firearms and silencer charges.
In 1999, an informant supplied information indicating that the men were planning to target the Suburban Propane plant in Elk Grove, California, and blow up two 12-million-gallon tanks of propane, potentially killing thousands. They also planned to target radio and television towers, intending for the whole thing to coincide with the arrival of Y2K. This was supposed to trigger a declaration of martial law, leading to an armed uprising.
The first trial resulted in a jury deadlock, but with the help of a third defendant, Donald K. Rudolph (who was aware of the plot but didn’t report it), the two were sentenced to over 20 years in prison each for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
8 Dave Burgert And Project-7
In early 2002, a disgruntled teenager entered a Flathead Valley, Montana, law office and revealed that he was a member of Project-7, a militia with a stockpile of weapons and a plan to assassinate local police officers, officials, and prosecutors until the National Guard was brought in. Project-7 would then kill the guardsmen, forcing the government to get involved and causing a general uprising. There was even a date set—Earth Day, April 22, 2002.
The teen claimed that their leader was Dave Burgert, a known extremist who had gone missing after assaulting a police officer. Following the teen’s instructions, police found Burgert hiding at his girlfriend’s house and brought him in, after a chase that culminated in a standoff in the woods which lasted for an entire night.
A search of Burgert’s girlfriend’s house revealed 25,000–30,000 rounds of ammunition, illegal machine guns, booby traps, a silencer, body armor, bomb-making chemicals, and military rations. Authorities also learned that Project-7 had a mole in the police office who had gathered “intelligence files” on the police and their families.
Burgert was jailed, but authorities couldn’t prove that there was any plot. All of the Project-7 members claimed innocence, while Burgert’s defense maintained that the teenager was just disgruntled over a fight. However, when faced with a stiff sentence of 10 years and supervised release for firearms charges, Burgert testified against one of the other leaders.
Burgert was released on parole in 2010, and he began stockpiling weapons again. On June 12, 2011, he led police on another chase and disappeared into the woods of Montana. He hasn’t been seen since.
7 William Krar
In January 2002, a package meant for Edward Feltus, a member of a New Jersey militia, arrived at a New York address instead. It contained fake military IDs, a social security card, and birth certificates. The authorities were contacted, and they began looking into the sender, a man named William Krar.
William Joseph Krar and his common-law wife Judith Bruey had already been under surveillance for almost a year. When Krar was pulled over by a state trooper in Tennessee, three atropine injections (a nerve gas antidote), 16 knives, a stun gun, a smoke grenade, two guns, handcuffs, marijuana, and 41 bottles (with a syringe) containing unknown chemicals were found in his car. Also in the car were notes that seemed to indicate some kind of plot. Krar claimed that they were a plan to help his girlfriend escape an abusive husband. He managed to post bail.
Soon after, Krar’s Noonday, Texas, home and three storage units were raided. Authorities found 500,000 rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers, briefcase bombs, and more. They found racist literature and explosive manuals, along with military and CIA field manuals. They found chemicals—containers of hydrochloric, nitric, and acetic acids. Worst of all was 800 grams of nearly pure sodium cyanide fashioned into a nearly complete bomb powerful enough to kill everyone in a 3,000-square-meter (30,000 ft2) building.
Krar was arrested on April 10, 2003. He pleaded guilty to possessing a chemical weapon, but the government felt that he was guilty of more. Federal authorities found coded documents that they claim indicated a covert plot, including meeting places, to-do lists, and notes about fake IDs. Krar, who was sentenced to 11 years, denies this, but as US Attorney Matthew Orwig of the Eastern District of Texas said, “To the extent there was any plot to use these weapons, that plot was thwarted.”
6 Sean Gillespie
On April 1, 2004, a man threw a Molotov cocktail into Temple B’nai Israel, a Jewish synagogue in Oklahoma City. The makeshift bomb went through the entrance and caught fire. Fortunately, there was no loss of life, and the damage was minor. Security cameras recorded a shrouded figure.
Soon after, police picked up Sean Gillespie for the crime. The then-21-year-old skinhead claimed to have been a member of the Aryan Brotherhood at one time and that he was involved in hate crimes in places ranging from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Spokane, Washington.
When police searched his car, they found a video tape. Gillespie had taped himself bombing the synagogue. US Attorney Robert McCampbell claims that the tape was meant to become part of a training video for recruiting fellow white supremacists into a revolutionary group, similar to Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorist training tapes. At one point, Gillespie turns to the camera and says of the “Zionist training center” (as he called it), “I’m going to firebomb it with a Molotov cocktail. Destroy the window first, then throw the Molotov cocktail in for maximum damage. I will film it for your viewing enjoyment, my kindred. White power!”
Gillespie maintained a high profile on the Internet, even joining dating sites looking for fellow “Aryans” and posting photos of himself doing Nazi salutes. One of his fellow white supremacists turned him in when Gillespie posted about his video and activities.
Gillespie faced up to 35 years in prison without parole. He ended up getting 39 after sending a hate letter to Temple B’nai while in prison.
5 Daniel Cowart And Paul Schlesselman
Daniel Cowert, who had ties with the Supreme White Alliance skinhead group and Stormfront (a neo-Nazi Internet forum), and Paul Schlesselman were two skinheads who met on the Internet. Eventually, they discussed plans to go on a multi-state killing spree. They planned to kill 88 people (88 is skinhead code for “Hail Hitler”), behead 14 more people (code for two popular slogans), and finally top it all off by assassinating Barack Obama while wearing white tuxedos and top hats.
They stole a bunch of their parents’ weapons, and Cowart drove from Tennessee to Arkansas to pick up Schlesselman. Cowart had a .308-caliber rifle as well as a .22 handgun and .25-caliber handgun, while Schlesselman had a sawed-off 12-gauge, a Ruger, and a .357 handgun. The duo surmised that they need more, so they made plans to rob gun stores.
After a failed home invasion attempt, they entered a Tennessee Walmart and bought food, rope, and ski masks. They later shot out a church window. The next day, they chalked white supremacy symbols on their car because, you know . . . subtlety. The two had been throwing up red flags for days and were picked up later that night, on October 22, 2008.
They were charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a federal firearms licensee, and making threats against a presidential candidate. Both admitted their plans to the authorities. Daniel Cowart was eventually sentenced to 14 years in a maximum security prison and is due to be released in 2021. Paul Schlesselman was sentenced to 10 years in a medium security prison and is due to be released in 2017.
4 The Hutaree Militia
On March 27, 2010, federal agents conducted a series of raids in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Their target was the Hutaree militia, self-described “Christian warriors” whose website at the time claimed that they were engaged in paramilitary fighting techniques to battle the coming Antichrist. Federal authorities alleged that Hutaree planned to overthrow the government by placing a 911 call and killing the cops that showed up. They then planned to bomb the resulting funeral, leading (they hoped) to an anti-government revolution.
When they raided the Michigan home of leader David Stone, authorities found possible bomb components and chemicals, a document on shape charges, various militia gear, a Hutaree flag, DVDs about Waco, and a notebook containing details on Hutaree’s organization. Further raids turned up drugs and steroids, literature and video on explosives, laptops and hard drives, guns and ammunition, hand weapons, and copies of racist literature.
The following day, eight members of the group including Stone (along with a ninth who was arrested later) faced several charges, including seditious conspiracy and harboring weapons of mass destruction. Seditious conspiracy is especially serious, invoked when “two or more persons (conspire) . . . to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the government of the United States; or to levy war against the U.S. or oppose by force to prevent the execution of U.S. law or seize property of the U.S.”
Stone and the seven other defendants were acquitted of conspiracy charges, and most were acquitted of all charges. (The ninth was found incompetent to stand trial.) In 2012, a Detroit judge ruled that the government lacked evidence to back claims that the group intended to carry out their plot, conceding that the group’s “plans” were just talk and therefore protected free speech.
In the end, David Stone and his son Joshua faced only firearm charges, for which they pleaded guilty in 2012. Joshua John Clough had also pleaded guilty to weapons charges the year before. They were eventually sentenced to time served and are now free.
3 Isaac Aguigui And FEAR
Army private Isaac Aguigui was responsible for taking four lives and was plotting to take over the Army base that he served in, assassinate the president, blow up a park fountain, and poison Washington’s apple orchards. He formed his own militia called Forever Enduring, Always Ready (FEAR), and a total of 11 other coconspirators would be arrested over the following year. Aguigui was described as a charismatic and powerful figure who had higher-ranking soldiers under his personal command.
The secret unraveled in December 2011, when Aguigui and three other soldiers were arrested for the murder of fellow FEAR member Michael Roark and his girlfriend Tiffany York. Aguigui was afraid that the two were about to go to authorities over FEAR. When Aguigui’s comrade, Private first class Michael Burnett, pleaded guilty and talked, seven more people were arrested.
Once in custody, investigators took another look at the death of Aguigui’s wife, 24-year-old Sergent Deirdre Aguigui, who had died on July 17, 2011, of apparently accidental causes while pregnant with Aguigui’s son. Aguigui’s militia had sprung up soon after his wife’s death, and he used the $500,000 insurance payout to buy $87,000 worth of weapons and a large amount of drugs to bankroll his revolution.
In July 2013, Aguigui was found guilty of killing his girlfriend and unborn son by strangulation. Dr. James Downs found evidence of wounds on her wrists and neck and testified that “a certain chokehold taught to Army soldiers could kill while leaving virtually no telltale marks.” Aguigui later admitted that he had strangled her with a plastic bag. He is serving life in prison without parole in Georgia.
2 Joseph Thomas And Samuel Johnson
Joseph Thomas and Samuel Johnson were former members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement who broke away in April 2011 to form a new group that they dubbed the Aryan Liberation Movement (ALM). The group, which would have “militant, funding, propaganda and political wings,” would be funded by selling drugs. The two white supremacists hoped to recruit others and begin a reign of terror that included acts of violence against minorities and government officials. However, Thomas’s vehicle had been implanted with a tracking device in August 2011, and the FBI had been investigating them since 2010. They moved in and arrested the two on drug and firearms charges.
The FBI learned that they had planned to attack the Mexican consulate in St. Paul, Minnesota. They were to steal a pickup truck, fill it with barrels of homemade napalm, drive it into the consulate, and set it on fire. This act of terrorism was supposed to influence the debate on immigration reform and spark an uprising. Another chilling find was that for over two years, the two had been compiling lists of random people who had Obama license plates or bumper stickers and had asked an associate to infiltrate a liberal bookstore to gather more names to use as potential targets.
Joseph Thomas and Samuel Johnson never faced terrorist charges, perhaps because the Department of Homeland Security, unaware of FBI surveillance, conducted a raid of Thomas’s home. Thomas cooked a hard drive in a microwave oven to remove incriminating evidence and destroyed a notebook that contained license plate numbers of people with pro-Obama bumper stickers.
1 Robert James Talbot Jr.
In March 2014, federal agents in the Houston, Texas, area arrested Robert James Talbot Jr. as he was about to rob an armored car in order to fund his “resistance” group. Unfortunately for him, the (inert) C-4 explosives that he had planned to use during the crime were provided to him by federal informants who had infiltrated Talbot’s group. For the last eight months, Talbot had been the target of a criminal probe.
Talbot, who subscribes to the right-wing, anti-government Patriot Movement ideology, allegedly created a Facebook page to form his own anti-government group, which he called the American Insurgent Movement (AIM). The criminal complaint lodged against him reported that the Facebook page described AIM as “a Pre-Constitutionalist Community that offers those who seek True patriotism and are looking for absolute Freedom by doing the Will of God. Who want to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.”
The complaint further alleged that Talbot made postings looking for recruits to form a team of people willing to “stop the regime.” Talbot had obtained detailed maps of the target as well as all escape routes and had carefully observed the routes and routines of the armored car personnel. He also provided his accomplices with a political manifesto along the way, one which said that “Blood and bullets are the only two things that will change this world, short of divine action.”
The robbery was meant to be the first phase in a campaign to murder police officers and blow up mosques and government buildings. He even told the FBI informants of his desire to kill a state trooper who had pulled him over for driving while intoxicated. On March 27, Talbot and accomplishes, including the informants, were en route to the robbery when he was arrested by the Houston FBI’s Special Weapons and Tactics Division. Talbot faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for the robbery, a further 10 years for the remaining charges, and up to $350,000 in fines.
Lance LeClaire is a freelance artist and writer. He writes on subjects ranging from science and skepticism, atheism, and religious history and issues, to unexplained mysteries and historical oddities, among other subjects. You can look him up on Facebook or keep an eye out for his articles on Listverse.