A group of US soldiers planning to take over their base, blow up targets around the country, wrest control of the government and kill the president – it could be a Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s a developing story in the southern state of Georgia.
Four US Army soldiers from the Fort Stewart base in southeast Georgia are charged with killing a former comrade and his girlfriend in a bid to prevent the couple from informing on a militia group of which they were all members.
One of the soldiers has agreed to cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for a lesser charge, while the rest are charged with malicious murder, felony murder, criminal gang activity, aggravated assault and using a firearm while committing a felony.
The case’s prosecutors paint a vivid picture of the group’s plans and actions.
Taking over the sprawling Fort Stewart base, bombing a fountain in nearby Savannah, bombing a dam and poisoning the apple crop in Washington State, and, eventually, toppling the US government and killing the president – these were the goals of the group, which called itself F.E.A.R., an acronym for Forever Enduring Always Ready.
“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” said prosecutor Isabel Pauley. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motives to carry out their plans.”
According to the prosecution, the group is the brainchild of one Pvt. Issac Aguigui, who allegedly sought out soldiers who were in trouble or disillusioned.
Members could easily identify each other by distinctive tattoos resembling the anarchy symbol.
Little information is available about the man behind the plan, however. Gossip website Gawker.com identified Aguigui as a page during the 2008 Republican Convention. Prosecutors say that during a videotaped interview with military investigators, Aguigui called himself “the nicest cold-blooded murderer you will ever meet.”
Aguigui’s pregnant wife died last year – and though he was never charged with her death, prosecutors say the judge finds it “highly suspicious.”
The $500,000 of insurance and benefits Aguigui received after his wife’s death financed the group’s activities. At least $87,000 went towards the purchase of semiautomatic rifles and bomb components. An undisclosed amount was spent on the acquisition of land in Washington State for the group’s use.
While it’s unclear how easy it was to join the group, there seems to have been only one way to leave it.
Former soldier Michael Roark, also a member of the militia, was killed just two days after leaving the Army. He and girlfriend Tiffany York were killed by other F.E.A.R. members, allegedly on the orders of Aguigui, who called them “loose ends” and believed they would betray others, prosecutors say.
The pair was taken to the woods under the pretense of going to shooting practice, and both were then shot in the head.
The Army seems to have had some knowledge of the gang’s activities, going so far as to charge four soldiers with the slayings of Roark and York in March. But the charges were never acted upon, and were later dropped.
Moreover, Fort Stewart spokesperson Kevin Larson said, “Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield does not have a gang or militia problem.” He added, however, that Army investigators are still working on the case.