An anarchist militia within the U.S. military plotted to assassinate President Obama and overthrow the U.S. government. Oh, and they're currently on trial for murder. Pfc. Michael Burnett's testimony is backing up prosecutors' claims. All the facts you need to know about this crazy story, below:
1. Michael Burnett and other soldiers formed an anarchist militia within the U.S. military
The goal of this alleged anarchist militia was to overthrow the U.S. government. The group called itself F.E.A.R., which stands for Forever Enduring Always Ready.
2. The other three members of the group are Sgt. Anthony Peden, Private Isaac Aguigui, and Private Christopher Salmon
The other soldiers known to be involved with the militia are Sgt. Anthony Peden, Private Isaac Aguigui, and Private Christopher Salmon. Private Isaac Aguigui has been identified as the group's founder and leader. It is unknown how many other members of the militia there are.
In a videotaped interview with military investigators, Aguigui referred to himself as "the nicest cold-blooded murderer you will ever meet."
3. The anarchist militia had a lot of weaponry
They allegedly bought $87,000 worth of guns and bomb-making materials. They had also bought land in Washington State.
4. Aguigui bank-rolled the operation
Aguigui funded the militia using $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife a year ago. Aguigui was not charged in his wife's death, but prosecutor Isabel Pauley claims her death was "highly suspicious."
5. F.E.A.R. planned to start with military forts
The group allegedly plotted a take-over of Fort Stewart and then intended to bomb targets in nearby Savannah, GA such as the Forsyth Park fountain. The group then planned to bomb a dam in Washington state and poison the state's apple supply.
6. Michael Burnett and the other members of the anarchist militia planned to assassinate President Barack Obama
The plot allegedly also involved the assassination of President Obama. One can only assume this was something they planned to build towards.
7. This all came out during the investigation into the murder of Michael Roark
Michael Burnett and the other three were charged with Roark's murder and the murder of his girlfriend, Tiffany York, who was 17-years-old. The group lured Roark and his girlfriend into the woods near their post on the night of Dec. 4th. They claimed they were going to do some target shooting. Perden shot York in the head as she was getting out of the car and Salmon made Roark get on his knees before shooting him in the head twice. Aguigui ordered the killings, according to Burnett's testimony.
Salmon's wife, Heather, was also charged in the killings.
8. They killed Roark for being a "loose end"
Roark had just left the military two days before he was killed and knew of the group's plans. He had become involved with the militia, but the four felt he had betrayed them and needed to be silenced.
9. Burnett only pleaded to manslaughter, illegal gang activity, and other charges in relation to the murders
He cut a deal with prosecutors for information on the group's plans and helping in the murder investigation. Most of this information comes from Burnett's testimony.
10. If convicted of premeditated murder by a court-martial, they can be sentenced to death or life in prison
Even before the plot was uncovered, the charges of premeditated murder against the four carried with them a harsh sentence that could have included the death penalty. Prosecutors were unsure at the time about whether they intended to seek the death penalty or not.
According to the New York Daily News, the victim's father Brett Roark was hoping for the death penalty:
If we can get the death penalty, let's go for it. This was one cold-blooded execution.
The remaining three soldiers have been charged with malice murder, felony murder, criminal gang activity, aggravated assault and using a firearm with committing a felony.