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Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia militia plot | Affidavit outlines plans for killings


-By Bill Rankin, Christian Boone and Katie Leslie

November 2, 2011- They are accused of plotting a violent attack against the federal government but don't look the part. The four men, ranging in age from 65 to 73, made their first court appearances Wednesday in Gainesville as about a dozen family members looked on.

Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, and 67-year-old Emory Dan Roberts, of Toccoa, were the first to appear before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Susan Cole. Both could be seen cupping their ears to better hear the judge's instructions and Roberts' wife was overheard fretting about her husband's access to medications he's been prescribed.

The two men, along with Toccoa residents Ray H. Adams, 65, and Samuel J. Crump, 68, appeared in handcuffs and leg shackles. All four requested and were granted court-appointed attorneys who'll represent them at a probable cause hearing scheduled for next Wednesday.

Bond won't be considered until that hearing. The alleged militia members were returned to the Hall County Jail. Family members declined comment as they left the courthouse, shielded by court-appointed defender Jeff Ertl.

Federal authorities said the men held clandestine militia meetings, beginning in March, in which they discussed using toxic agents and assassinations to undermine federal and state government. Militia members also discussed how to obtain firearms, ammunition and silencers, the FBI affidavit said.

U.S. Attorney Sally Yates said that as the U.S. government focuses on terrorist threats by violent international extremists, “This case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our borders who threaten our safety and security.”

Thomas, Roberts, Adams and others who attended the meetings discussed targeting various government officials, federal authorities said. The meetings were monitored by the FBI and secretly tape recorded by a confidential informant helping the FBI, according to sworn affidavits unsealed Tuesday.

Thomas was described in affidavits as a leading speaker at the meetings. He discussed having a “bucket list” of government officials, business leaders and members of the media who needed to be “taken out” to “make the country right again,” the affidavit said.

Thomas also said he was a military veteran who had been to war and had taken a life, and said he could do it again, the affidavit said.

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