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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Homegrown WMD Terrorists?

I really don't know what to make of this report:

On November 13, 2003, William J. Krar, 62, a right-wing extremist with connections to militia groups and an interest in white supremacist literature, pleaded guilty in federal court in Tyler, Texas, to possessing chemicals that could be used to make a dangerous weapon. Krar's co-defendant and companion, Judith Bruey, 54, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess illegal weapons.

In his plea agreement, Krar, owner of a company that makes gun parts, admitted to possessing sodium cyanide and other chemicals that can produce a lethal gas when combined. In an April raid on a storage unit rented by Krar and Bruey in Noonday, Texas, FBI agents found chemicals, including nitric and acetic acids along with the sodium cyanide, and instructions on how to produce chemical weapons. Agents also found machine guns, more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition and materials for pipe bombs.

Authorities also found weapons and false documents in Krar's vehicle, in a U-Haul truck at his residence, and in a storage facility in New Hampshire, where Krar used to live.
Several different bloggers have cited a sexier story from a TV news station. It emphasizes "weapons of mass destruction" and domestic terrorism:
Since arresting the three people in May, federal agents have served hundreds of subpoenas across the country in a domestic terror investigation that made it onto President Bush’s daily intelligence briefings and set off national security alarms among the country’s most senior counter-terror officials.

Terrorism investigators suspect that Krar, who has paid no federal income taxes since 1988, made his living as a traveling arms salesman who pedaled illicit bomb components and other weapons to violent underground anti-government groups across the country.

Sources familiar with the investigation say authorities especially fear that Krar may have manufactured more than one sodium cyanide bomb and sold them. After a traffic stop earlier this year while Krar was traveling through Tennessee, state troopers seized sodium cyanide among other weapons, one government source confirmed.

Federal investigators were not looking for white supremacist groups when they stumbled across Krar by accident.

He drew the FBI’s attention when he sent a package of counterfeit ID’s for the United Nations and Defense Intelligence Agency to Feltus’ New Jersey home earlier this year. The package was mistakenly delivered to a Staten Island man, who opened it and called police.
Since the period right after Oklahoma City, the media hasn't reported much about right wing militias in the US.

I know a former diplomat who has served in Pakistan, Turkey and India, and then lived domestically in Montana. Just after 9/11 (about the time the US went to war in Afghanistan) he told me there are probably a lot more "terrorists" in Montana than in Southwest Asia.

This may not be literally true, but it is surprising that the media hasn't given this story significant attention.

Update: January 7, 2004, reporter Scott Gold has a piece on this story in the Los Angeles Times . Interestingly, Gold credits bloggers with publicizing and keeping the story alive. Robert Jensen of Texas is quoted as saying that the Bush administration gains politically by playing up international terrorist threats, but gains little by emphasizing domestic terror -- even if the latter threat is greater.

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