Federal agents arrested four suspected members of a Georgia militia on charges of plotting attacks with toxins and explosives in Atlanta and against unnamed government officials.
The four, who authorities arrested Tuesday, were expected to appear in federal court in Gainesville, Ga., on Wednesday afternoon.
They were part of a group that also tried to obtain an unregistered explosive device and sought out the complex formula to produce ricin, a biological toxin that can be lethal in small doses, according to a federal complaint.
One suspect discussed ways of dispersing ricin from an airplane in the sky over Washington, court records state. Another suspected member of the group intended to use the plot of an online novel as a model for plans to attack U.S. federal law officers and others, authorities said. Court documents state that 73-year-old Frederick Thomas told others he intended to model their actions on the online novel “Absolved,” which involves small groups of citizens attacking U.S. officials.
The four listed in the indictment are Thomas; Dan Roberts, 67; Ray Adams, 65; and Samuel Crump, 68. The men live in the north Georgia towns of Cleveland and Toccoa.
At least two of the suspects are former federal employees, court records show.
Militia groups are the militant arm of the Patriot Movement. They are organized, armed groups that claim to defend the U.S. Constitution (from real or perceived enemies).
Prosecutors said the public was never in imminent danger.
“When it comes time to saving the Constitution, that means some people gotta die,” an arrest affidavit quotes one of the defendants, Frederick Thomas, as saying during one recorded conversation. […]
“While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said in a written statement announcing the arrests.
The affidavits don’t identify the “known militia organization.” But according to the documents, the men talked about spreading ricin across several cities at once, including Washington, Atlanta, New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida.
What is Ricin?
CBS News says Ricin is
a poison found naturally in castor beans, and is made from waste leftovers after processing the beans. It can be used in powder, mist, a pellet, or can be dissolved in liquid.
Ricin seeps into the body’s cells of an exposed person, preventing them from making necessary proteins. Without the proteins, the cells die, eventually resulting in death. […]
Symptoms of ricin inhalation include difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea, heavy sweating, and fluid buildup in the lungs. Ingesting ricin can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, seizures, and hallucinations. Death can occur from 36 hours to 72 hours following exposure.
The Telegraph writes
Ricin can cause death from exposure to as little as a pinhead amount. Most victims die between 36 hours and 72 hours after exposure, and there is no known antidote.
The most famous case of ricin poisoning was in 1978 when dissident Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov was killed when an assassin in London jabbed him with an umbrella that injected a tiny ricin-filled pellet.