CNN.com: Cyanide, arsenal stirs domestic terror fear
NOONDAY, Texas (AP)—William Krar and Judith Bruey assembled a frightening arsenal in three rented storage units in this East Texas town, and federal authorities are trying to figure out why.
A raid in April found nearly two pounds of a cyanide compound and other chemicals that could create enough poisonous gas to kill everyone inside a space as large as a big-chain bookstore or a small-town civic center.
Authorities also discovered nearly half a million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers and remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases, plus pamphlets on how to make chemical weapons, and anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-government books.
The findings have led to one of the most extensive domestic-terrorism investigations since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Federal investigators believe conspirators may remain free, and one question lingers: What did the couple intend to do with the weapons?
"There's no other reason for anyone to possess that type of device other than to kill people," said Brit Featherston, a federal prosecutor and the government's anti-terrorism coordinator in Texas' eastern district. "The arsenal found in those searches had the capability of terrorizing a lot of people."
In November, Krar, 62, pleaded guilty to possessing a dangerous chemical weapon. He could go to prison, but the law does not specify a minimum or maximum. Bruey, 54, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess illegal weapons and could get up to five years in prison. The couple remain in jail. Sentencing is expected sometime in February.
Krar and Bruey moved to a house in Tyler from New Hampshire about two years ago, though federal authorities do not know why.
They soon rented space at Noonday Storage and for more than a year visited their units each morning, spending hours unloading U-hauls of military surplus items or picking through piles of bathing suits and beer coolers they said they resold at shops and markets.
"We never had any problems out of them and never suspected anything out of them," said Teresa Staples, who owns the storage business in this community of 500 people about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.
A mistake led the FBI to Krar two years ago.
Krar mailed a package to a self-described militia member in New Jersey. The package included several phony documents—U.N. and Pentagon ID cards, a Social Security card, birth certificates from three states—and a note: "We would hate to have this fall into the wrong hands."
But that was exactly what happened.
The package was mistakenly delivered to a man in New York City, who notified authorities. It was traced back to Krar, and the intended recipient, Edward Feltus, 56, of Old Bridge, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the transportation of false identification documents. He could get up to 15 years in prison.
Krar's attorney, Tonda Curry, acknowledges that Krar owned illegal weapons, but said there is no evidence he planned to use them.
"It was not a situation where they were at arm's reach, ready to respond to some invasion. They were miles away stored," she said. "Nothing I've seen from the government or from him indicates that the United States as a country had any reason to be afraid of Bill Krar."
But federal investigators believe Krar's past behavior indicates his potential for domestic terrorism.
In 1985, Krar was arrested in New Hampshire for impersonating a law enforcement officer, according to the FBI. He stopped paying federal income taxes in 1989. His ties to New Hampshire's white supremacist and anti-government militia groups in the mid-1990s were investigated by federal agents.
Firefighters battling a blaze at a New Hampshire storage building in June 2001 discovered thousands of rounds of ammunition and four guns. Some belonged to Krar.
An employee at another New Hampshire storage company told investigators she feared Krar because he was "wicked anti-American," often ranting about government corruption and how he hated police officers and Americans in general because they were "money-hungry grubs," according to an FBI affidavit.
Last January, a Tennessee state trooper stopped Krar for a traffic violation and found in his rental car two handguns, a grenade, handcuffs, a gas mask, 16 knives and 40 wine-like bottles filled with an unknown substance.
Most curious were handwritten notes that listed "meeting places," including hospitals or Wal-Marts in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. The notes also outlined a code for referring to the level of danger, from "Lots of light storms are predicted" to "Tornadoes are expected in our area—Things very hot. Lay low or change your travel plans."
Krar told investigators the code was part a plan to help his girlfriend escape her ex-husband.
Despite the warning signs, Krar was not fully investigated until the fake documents went to the wrong address. And even that red flag may have been ignored if not for the heightened attention after September 11, Featherston said.
Some contend the government is so focused on foreign terror threats that it overlooks domestic dangers.
"I have no doubt whatsoever that had these men been affiliated with al Qaeda, we would have heard more," said Daniel Levitas, author of the book "The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right." "There is something of a blind spot within the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., when it comes to the violent potential of America's own homegrown version of al Qaeda."
Featherston said hundreds of subpoenas were issued and the Texas case was investigated just as thoroughly as foreign cases.
"There's international terrorism and domestic terrorism, but they're all terrorism," he said. "I don't care which one it is or what color their skin is. If their intention is to do harm to the citizens of this country, then all the resources necessary from the local level to the federal level will be put into the case."