ATLANTA — Federal officials arrested four members of a Georgia militia Tuesday, alleging that they were planning to attack state and federal buildings with guns and explosives.
The men also intended to deploy the deadly toxin ricin in cities including Atlanta, according to court affidavits filed in the case. One suspect allegedly 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 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 group was secretly monitored by a government source who recorded its meetings, and later by an undercover federal agent pretending to be an arms dealer.
"While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement.
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 media members whom 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.
Over subsequent meetings, the men discussed carrying out a number of criminal acts, including theft and assassinations, according to a Justice Department statement.
The FBI arrested all four men Monday. Thomas and Roberts were charged with conspiracy to receive unregistered firearms. Crump and Adams were charged with attempting to produce a biological agent for use as a weapon.