Four U.S. soldiers have been charged with killing a former comrade and his girlfriend to help conceal the existence of a militia they had formed to carry out anti-government attacks. Prosecutors in Georgia say the soldiers spent $87,000 on guns and bombing materials for a plot that included taking over their base, Fort Stewart; bombing a dam and poisoning the apple crop in Washington state; and ultimately overthrowing the government and assassinating President Obama. The soldiers called themselves F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready. They are accused of killing former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York, last December in a bid to keep their plans secret. It is the most high-profile case to involve extremism in the U.S. military ranks since neo-Nazi Army veteran Wade Michael Page killed six worshipers at the Oak Creek Sikh temple in Wisconsin and critically wounded three others before being shot dead earlier this month.
The four U.S. soldiers implicated in the crimes, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, Sgt. Anthony Peden, Pvt. Christopher Salmon and Burnett, are all active members of the U.S. Army. According to Burnett, the group’s rationale behind killing the president was “to give the government back to the people,” according to CNN. “The government needed a change, Burnett told the court. ‘I thought we were the people who would be able to change it.'” According to Long County Prosecutor Isabel Pauley, “This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk. Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action” and had the “knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.” The Associated Press reports that the group courted current and former soldiers “who were in trouble or disillusioned.” Prosecutors said they had no idea of the size of F.E.A.R.’s membership.