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Four Army soldiers based in southeast Georgia have been charged with the murder of a former comrade and his girlfriend to protect their anarchist militia group.
The group called itself F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready. Authorities are unsure as to how many members it had.
Prosecutors said the militia group of active and former U.S. military members spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components.
They concluded that the group was serious enough to kill two people – former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York – by shooting them in the woods last December in order to keep its plans secret.
“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Superior Court judge. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.”
All four members are being charged by state authorities with malice murder, felony murder, criminal gang activity, aggravated assault and using a firearm while committing a felony. A hearing for the three soldiers was scheduled last Thursday.
Prosecutors say Roark, 19, served with the four defendants in the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division and became involved with the militia. The group believed it had been betrayed by Roark, who left the Army two days before he was killed.
The group shortly decided the ex-soldier and his girlfriend needed to be silenced, Pauley said.
Pvt. Isaac Aguigui was identified by prosecutors as the militia’s founder and leader.
According to Pauley, Aguigui funded the militia using $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife a year ago. Although Aguigui was not charged in his wife’s death, Pauley told the judge her death was “highly suspicious.”
Aguigui then used the insurance payment money to buy $87,000 worth of semiautomatic assault rifles, guns, and bomb components that were recovered from the accused soldiers’ homes and from a storage locker.
The money was also used to buy land for his militia group in Washington state, Pauley said.
Besides being involved in a double homicide, the group’s members had big plans, stated a police prosecutor.
It plotted to take over Fort Stewart by seizing its ammunition control point and talked of bombing the Forsyth Park fountain in nearby Savannah.
In Washington state, the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state’s apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia’s goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president.
Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said the Army has dropped its charges against the four for the slayings of Roark and York. The Military authorities filed their charges in March but never acted on them.
“Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield does not have a gang or militia problem,” Larson said in a prepared statement, though he said Army investigators still have an open investigation in the case.
“However, we don’t believe there are any unknown subjects,” he said.