Updated: August 27, 2012, 6:14 PM
A state prosecutor said on Monday that four U.S. soldiers had secret roles in a militia that planned to kill President Obama and take over the Fort Stewart Army base in Georgia, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The four soldiers, who served at Fort Stewart, were allegedly part of a group that went by the name F.E.A.R., or Forever Enduring Always Ready. The prosecutor said the members were inked with matching tattoos, and authorities have no idea if other people were part of the group, the report said.No state or federal charges have been filed against any of the soldiers for their role in the alleged plot. The new revelations came to light in an ongoing murder case against the four soldiers in state court in Georgia.
One of the soldiers, Pfc. Michael Burnett, changed his plea in the case to guilty on charges of manslaughter and other crimes in the killing of a young couple last year and appeared prepared to testify against his fellow co-defendants.
One of the victims, Michael Roark, was a former soldier who served alongside the group at Fort Stewart and was reportedly part of the militia. The other victim was his girlfriend, Tiffany York. The remaining three soldiers, Sgt. Anthony Peden, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui and Pvt. Christopher Salmon, are still facing charges connected to the killing.
Burnett testified at the court hearing in rural Long County, Ga., that the militia felt Roark had betrayed them by leaving the Army days before the killing and they saw him as “a loose end,” according to the Associated Press.
It’s not clear whether the plots to kill the president or take over Fort Stewart were advanced, but authorities have said the quartet stockpiled guns and other weapons.
Back in December when the four soldiers were first arrested, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives described them as a “loosely-knit group of individuals” who teamed up to buy the weapons.
Spokesman Richard Coes told the Wenatchee World newspaper in Washington state, where one of the men was from, that the guns were mostly expensive, “military-grade” rifles.
“It doesn’t look like they were trying to distribute them,” Coes told the newspaper. “Whatever it was, it was extremely odd to gather that collection of guns.”
Read the entire AP report here.
Update: Gawker reports that one of the soldiers may have attended the 2008 Republican National Convention as a page.
Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org