This case, like that Bradley Glover case of 1997, had a high potential for actually being carried out, and with a very high potential for tragedy. That it didn't is a testament to good police work.
It happened to occur in Lenoir City, Tennessee, and involved a former soldier named Ivan Braden:
- According to the criminal complaint, the FBI says that Ivan Braden was planning to enter this Armory Friday, armed with guns and bombs.
Quick work by the Knox County Sheriff's office and the Federal Joint Terrorism Task Force and may have prevented a tragedy.
The Sheriff's Department searched a home where Ivan Braden lived on East Gallaher Ferry Road in Northwest Knoxville.
Inside, among Neo-Nazi items, an unregistered shotgun, and pipe bomb materials, they found sketches related to a plot at the armory.
They immediately called the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The feds say the former 278th soldier planned to take people hostage at the Lenoir City Armory and periodically kill them.
He also allegedly planned to booby trap the door and planned to be killed by police or detonate a homicide bomb inside.
A search of Braden's vehicle turned up gunpowder, empty carbon dioxide containers, and cannon fuse.
There was a case similar to this one elsewhere in the news recently as well. It involved a Tim McVeigh-inspired plan to bomb a federal building in the Midwest, and again, the perp was of a higher level of competence than most right-wing extremist plotters:
This case involved a man nearing the end of his federal prison term who described himself as a "white separatist", much like McVeigh, and was highly motivated to "make a statement":
- Parr's cellmate alerted authorities to the plot and allowed the FBI to tape record conversations between the two. During those discussions, Parr described himself as both a separatist and a domestic terrorist. He also revealed plans to destroy the federal building using a delivery-type truck filled with fertilizer. He planned to buy a brown uniform from Farm and Fleet, attach a name tag and carry a clipboard so as not to draw attention to himself or the vehicle, according to the documents.
FBI agents were concerned that Parr had conducted surveillance of the building because he knew it is approximately 25 feet from the street, is across from The Shops of Grand Avenue and has a glass exterior. He also told his cellmate he had seen delivery trucks driving right up to the building. There is no reason someone from Janesville, which is 65 miles from Milwaukee, would know so much about the building, according to the FBI.
"This threat -- it was very detailed. It was apparent that the suspect was very familiar with the makeup of this building," said David Mitchell, special agent in charge of the FBI's Milwaukee office.
Transcripts of the recorded conversations are included in the criminal complaint against Parr. In one of them, Parr said that he hoped to join Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in the history books.
"I hope it'll make people aware," he said. "I hope others will say, wow, he can stand up and make a statement like that. I might not be as radical as (McVeigh) but I surely agree with him. . . . It might generate some people to stand up and say, you know what? Enough is enough."
Cases like these underscore the fact, once again, that terrorism is not an activity relegated to Muslims, nor, when it comes to racial profiling, are white Americans any less capable of extreme damage and remarkable acts of terror.
They should also remind us, once again, that modern terrorism is an asymmetrical threat: that is, its ability to inflict damage is out of all proportion to its logistical size. It should underscore just how misbegotten Bush's "war on terror" actually is, since it is attempting to deal with the threat as though it were symmetrical.
This was made manifest in the Iraq invasion, which before the invasion had only a peripheral role in the proliferation of terrorism, but now -- thanks to the post-invasion insurgency and the incompetent mishandling of the occupation -- is likely to become a major source of terrorism for the foreseeable future. Responding to terrorism with military action (as opposed to intelligence) is akin to hunting a weasel with a cannon.
Note, if you will, that in both these cases, it was intelligence that prevented the attack. The same was true of not only Glover's, but many of the 40-plus cases of serious domestic terrorism we identified in the wake of Oklahoma City.