Four U.S. Soldiers Involved in Terror Plot

Four U.S. Soldiers Involved in Terror Plot

by Sheila Musaji

Russ Bynun on Huffington Post reports in the article Military Terror Plot: Murder Case Uncovers Terror Plot By ‘Militia’ Within U.S. Military

Four Army soldiers based in southeast Georgia killed a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect an anarchist militia group they formed that stockpiled assault weapons and plotted a range of anti-government attacks, prosecutors told a judge Monday.

Prosecutors in rural Long County, near the sprawling Army post Fort Stewart, said the militia group composed of active duty and former U.S. military members spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components and was serious enough to kill two people – former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York – by shooting them in the woods last December in order to keep its plans secret.

... Prosecutors said the group called itself F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready. Pauley said authorities don’t know how many members the militia had.

... All are charged by state authorities with malice murder, felony murder, criminal gang activity, aggravated assault and using a firearm while committing a felony. A hearing for the three soldiers was scheduled Thursday.

Prosecutors say Roark, 19, served with the four defendants in the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division ...

These men, Army Pfc. Michael Burnett, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon, formed a militia group while in the military, bought guns and bomb components, killed people to cover up their plans, planned to assassinate the President, bomb several targets including a dam, and take over a military base and ultimately the country - and yet the charges are NOT terrorism?  I would hope that as this story unfolds that they are charged with domestic terrorism, and not simply criminal gang activity and aggravated assault. 

These men are not the only right-wing terrorists, or the only soldiers to have either been radicalized while in the military, or not been noticed as radicals when they entered the military.

The Sikh Temple shooter, Wade Michael Page was an Army PsyOps veteran with white supremacist connections and tattoos.  Kevin William Harpham who left a backpack bomb with the potential of killing or injuring dozens of people along the route of a Martin Luther King Day “unity march” in downtown Spokane, Washington was a former soldier with white supremacist connections.  Two of the Georgia militia members sentenced this week for a terrorism plot to blow up government buildings were military veterans.  Timothy McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols, trained and served together with the Army First Infantry Division.

Actually, if you do a search in our collection of incidents titled Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history, you will notice that many of these individuals were in the military.  In the article Fort Hood Shooting, Islam, and America, I discussed the large number of problems faced by some military veterans, the increasing number of violent incidents (including suicides, murders, etc.), and post traumatic stress syndrome.  That article talked about warning signs that the military might have missed regarding Maj. Nidal Hassan. 

It has been reported that the four soldiers involved in this current terrorist plot wore distinctive identifying tattoos reflecting their militia group membership.  How did no one in the military notice that?  It seems as if the military might need to rethink their vetting procedures for those who want to join, and to overhaul their mental health program.

Just last week, Daniel Trotta published an important article on Reuters U.S. Army battling racists within its own ranks which is worth reading as he provides a great deal of detail about this problem. 
Trotta reported:

White supremacists, neo-Nazis and skinhead groups encourage followers to enlist in the Army and Marine Corps to acquire the skills to overthrow what some call the ZOG - the Zionist Occupation Government. Get in, get trained and get out to brace for the coming race war.

If this scenario seems like fantasy or bluster, civil rights organizations take it as deadly serious, especially given recent events. Former U.S. Army soldier Wade Page opened fire with a 9mm handgun at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Aug. 5, murdering six people and critically wounding three before killing himself during a shootout with police.

The U.S. Defense Department as well has stepped up efforts to purge violent racists from its ranks, earning praise from organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has tracked and exposed hate groups since the 1970s.

...  While at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, Page told Simi , he made the acquaintance of James Burmeister, a skinhead paratrooper who in 1995 killed a black Fayetteville couple in a racially motivated shooting. Burmeister was sentenced to life in prison and died in 2007.

No one knows how many white supremacists have served since then. A 2008 report commissioned by the Justice Department found half of all right-wing extremists in the United States had military experience.

...  Experts have identified the presence of street gang members as a more widespread problem. Even so, the Pentagon has launched three major pushes in recent decades to crack down on racist extremists. The first directive was issued in 1986, when Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger ordered military personnel to reject supremacist organizations.

That failed to stop former Marine T.J. Leyden, with two-inch SS bolts tattooed above his collar, from serving from 1988 to 1991 while openly supporting neo-Nazi causes. A member of the Hammerskin Nation, a skinhead group, he said he hung a swastika from his locker, taking it down only when his commander politely asked him to ahead of inspections by the commanding general.  “I went into the Marine Corps for one specific reason: I would learn how shoot,” Leyden told Reuters. “I also learned how to use C-4 (explosives), blow things up. I took all my military skills and said I could use these to train other people,” said Leyden, 46, who has since renounced the white power movement and is a consultant for the anti-Nazi Simon Wiesenthal Center.

In 1995, eight months before the Fort Bragg murders, two former Army soldiers bombed the Oklahoma City federal building, killing 168 people. With a growing awareness of the spreading militia movement, the Pentagon in 1996 banned military personnel from participating in supremacist causes and authorized commanders to cashier personnel for rallying, recruiting or training racists.

“What’s scary about Page is that he served in the 1990s when putatively this was being treated quite seriously by the military. There’s plenty of other Pages who served during the war on terror, and we don’t know what they’re going to be doing over the next decade or so,” said Matt Kennard, author of the forthcoming book “Irregular Army: How the U.S. Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror.”

Kennard argues the U.S. military was so desperate for troops while fighting simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that it allowed extremists, felons and gang members into the armed forces.

The military can grant a “moral waiver” to allow a convicted criminal or otherwise ineligible person into the armed forces, and the percentage of recruits granted such waivers grew from 16.7 percent in 2003 to 19.6 percent in 2006, according to Pentagon data obtained by the Palm Center in a 2007 Freedom of Information Act request. But the Pentagon says no waiver exists for participation in extremist organizations.

“Our standards have not changed; participation in extremist activities has never been tolerated and is punishable under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice,” said Eileen Lainez, a Defense Department spokeswoman.

The Pentagon’s third directive against white supremacists was issued in 2009 after a Department of Homeland Security report expressed concern that right-wing extremists were recruiting veterans returning from wars overseas.

The Pentagon’s 2009 instruction, updated in February 2012, directs commanders to remain alert for signs of racist activity and to intervene when they see it. It bans soldiers from blogging or chatting on racist websites while on duty.

In the article Why Are We Ignoring Right-Wing Threats to Our Security? I commented on the many warnings we have had about the threat of homegrown right-wing terrorism that have been ignored:

Rep. Peter King held a series of “radicalization hearings which focused only on Muslim perpetrators.  Our article Answers to Peter King’s Claims About the American Muslim Community discusses these hearings at length.  When Rep. King was specifically asked to broaden the scope to include all radicalization no matter its source - he refused.  In fact, his response was “To include other groups, such as neo-Nazis and extreme environmentalists in this hearing would be extraneous and diffuse its efficacy.  It would also send the false message that our Committee believes that there is any threat equivalency between these disparate groups and Islamist terrorism. Very simply, the Committee cannot ignore the fact that al Qaeda is actively attempting to recruit individuals living within the Muslim American community to commit acts of terror…I will not allow political correctness to obscure a real and dangerous threat to the safety and security of the citizens of the United States.”

In 2009, Janet Napolitano warned about the threat from right-wing extremists, and she was ignored. 

In 2010, FBI Director, Robert Mueller warned that homegrown extremists are as threatening as Al Qaeda.  He was ignored.

In 2010, former President Bill Clinton issued a warning on the extremist mood in US.  Clinton was quoted as saying in part “We are again dealing with difficulties in a contentious, partisan time … As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.”  He was ignored.

In 2011, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the Homeland Security Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee introduced a bill to add 6 drug cartels to foreign terrorist list but it didn’t happen.  He was ignored, even though U.S. authorities have reported a spike in killings, kidnappings and home invasions connected to Mexico’s cartels, and at least 19 Americans were killed in 2008.  Another 92 Americans were killed between June 2009 and June 2010.

Our articles Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history and 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks exist only in fevered Islamophobic brains provide a great deal of information on the fact that extremism, violence, and terrorism are not confined to Muslims.  Also see Mother Jones’ A Guide to Mass Shootings in America which notes that “Since 1982, there have been at least 58 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. We’ve mapped them below, including details on the shooters’ identities, the types of weapons they used, and the number of victims they injured and killed.”


That article also discusses numerous reports and studies on this problem, and the analysts that have been ignored. In that article, I said:  Why does it take investigative journalism and freedom of information act requests to find this information?  Why are these facts not public knowledge?  Whose interest does it serve to insist on ignoring a very real source of danger?  Why are the warnings of individuals like Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller, former President Bill Clinton ignored when they point to a source of danger coming from anyone other than Muslims? 

Yes, there are terrorists who are Muslim, and they are dangerous, and so are all other terrorists or extremists who justify violence on the basis of any religious interpretation or political ideology.  I am just as concerned about all extremists and terrorists no matter what their ideology.  And, I believe that government and law enforcement officials should be just as concerned. 

If these four soldiers are not charged with terrorism then double standards on identifying terrorists will appear to be a matter of policy.  There really does seem to be a double standard operating, not only in relation to which acts, or which perpetrators are defined as terrorists, but also with what constitutes “aiding” or “providing material support” to terrorists, and how such acts will be punished.


2011 Annual Report: Zero Civilians in U.S. Killed by Islamic Terrorism… Just Like Every Year Since, Danios

17,000 “Islamic terrorist” attacks exist only in fevered Islamophobic brains, Sheila Musaji

A terrorist by any other name,  Jon Pahl

Actually, Many Muslim Terrorists Are as Unbalanced as Jared Loughner, Cord Jefferson

Call the Colorado shootings what they were: terrorism, Dawinder Sidhu,0,285198.story

Citizens for National Security and Rep. Allen West Bring Islamophobia to Congress, Sheila Musaji

Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history, Sheila Musaji

Ex-Guardsman Tells of Training White Supremacists

Extremism and the military, Mark Potok

Florida terrorism arrest follows tip from local Muslims, MPAC

Homegrown Terrorism, Sahar Aziz

Hutaree Militia Arrests Point to Tripling of Militias since 2008

Hutaree Christian Militia, Not an Isolated Phenomena, Sheila Musaji


On TAM we have published a number of articles on Rep. Peter King’s Hearings and related U.S. government and military hearings and training that most American Muslims consider to be Islamophobic:  TAM has an article The American Muslim Community and Rep. Peter King’s “Islamic” Radicalization Hearings which has a great deal of background on Peter King and these hearings, which includes an extensive article collection.  We also have a series of articles breaking down various aspects of the hearings.

-   Peter King’s Hearing: What Was the Point? discussing the content of the hearings, with a collection of articles written after the hearing ended. 
Peter King’s Civics Lesson for American Muslims which has a collection of anti-Muslim statements by elected representatives and government officials made during and before the hearings.  
Existing reports and studies on radicalization in the American Muslim Community and Polls, Surveys, and Statistics Relating to Islam and Muslims  with actual hard evidence so lacking in the hearing.  
Response of Civic Organizations and Interfaith Community to “Muslim Radicalization” Hearings  
Elected Representatives & Government Officials Who HAVE Questioned Islamophobia with quotes from elected representives and government officials attempting to counter the bias of this hearing both during and before the hearing.  
- Peter King’s hearing: witness testimonies - allegations but no facts
- Peter King’s Fourth Hearing Targets Muslims in the Military
- Peter King’s Fifth Hearing With “Astroturf” Muslim Witnesses
- Zuhdi Jasser and AIFD - Identified by Rep. King as the Ideal American Muslim Leadership
- Does Rep. King’s IRA/Terrorist Connection Matter?
Answers to Peter King’s Claims About the American Muslim Community which lays out all of his claims and allegations and provides detailed answers to each.  (e.g. Do Muslims cooperate with law enforcement?  Do Muslims speak out against terrorism and extremism?  Are most Muslims terrorists?  Are 80 to 85% of mosques run by radicals?  Have American Muslim organizations responded to the issue of radicalization?  Are mosques the source of radicalization?  etc.)
- The scope of Rep. Kings Hearings Creates Homeland “in"Security
- National Faith Leaders to Protest Anti-Muslim Hearings 
Rep. Peter King’s Muslim Phobia
- Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history
- The NYPD, the CIA, and “The Third Jihad”
- Islamophobia no longer questioned - even by our elected representatives
- GOP Anti-Muslim Limbo:  They’ve Lowered the Bar Again!
The GOP Anti-Muslim Limbo:  How Low Can They Go?
- White House Releases “New” Counter-terrorism Strategy:  Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States
Where is the U.S. Government Getting It’s Information on Islam and Muslims?
All of these articles will be updated as further information comes in, and there will be more articles in this series.

The MEK and terrorism double standards, Sheila Musaji (with TAM article collection on MEK)

Militia Movement: Extremism in America, ADL

Militias Seen as Gaining Strength

Officials See Rise In Militia Groups Across US, Eileen Sullivan 

Oklahoma City bombing: Is 1995 repeating itself today?, Peter Grier

Sarah Palin, Blame, and Responsibility, Sheila Musaji (Arizona shooting)

Pentagon tightens restrictions on hate group participation

Perceptions of terrorism, post 9/11, Erin McIver

The Return of Christian Terrorism, Mark Juergensmeyer 

SPLC Urges DHS to Reassess Resources After Key Analyst Reveals Unit on Domestic Terror was Scaled Back in Wake of Right-Wing Criticism

SPLC Report: “Patriot” Groups, Militias Surge in Number in Past Year

Selective Counterterrorism Practices Threaten Social Mobility of American Muslims, Sahar Aziz

Some terrorism scares are more useful than others

Robert Spencer and the Big Lie About “Islamic” Terrorism Threat, Sheila Musaji

The terrorist as public relations expert (Breivik), Sheila Musaji

Todays Eerie Similarities to Oklahoma City, Aitan Goelman

The “War on Terror” Creates “Islamic” Terrorism, Danios

Was Joseph Stack a terrorist, Kevin Drum

What Americans Can Do to Discourage Future McVeighs, Kathleen Parker 

What if they were Muslim

When is a terrorist group not a terrorist group?, Ed Drum

White House Releases “New” Counter-terrorism Strategy, Sheila Musaji

Why are Mexican drug cartels not listed as terrorist organizations

Why Can’t Terrorists Be Mentally Ill, Too?, Cord Jefferson

Why is no one calling Jared Loughner a terrorist

In our TAM article collection Hirabah - Jihad - Terrorism - Violence - Just War - Crusades we provide links to many resources to better understand this discussion which includes this section:

Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism list of article collections and resources on this and other topics including responses to Islamophobic claims.
- Part I & II Fatwas & Statements by Muslim Scholars & Organizations against extremism and terrorism
- Part III Statements & Articles by Individuals
- Part IV A few Quotes A-K, and L-Z
- Part V Muslim Voices Promoting Islamic Non Violent Solutions 
- Part VI Qur’an & Hadith Against Extremism and Terrorism
- Part VII Selective Hearing of Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism 
- Part VIII Religious terrorism is an oxymoron, Sheila Musaji
- Part IX Throwing Stones at the Qur’an From a Biblical Glass House, Sheila Musaji
- Part X Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history
- Part XI A Spiritual Jihad Against Terrorism (5 parts), Sheila Musaji
Part XII Muslim Scholars Appeal to Christian Scholars for Dialogue and Peace - “A Common Word”, Sheila Musaji
Part XIII Muslim Violence, Christian Non-Violence:  People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Words, Sheila Musaji

Each of the resource articles mentioned contain collections of extensive links to articles on the particular aspect of this discussion.