Bank Robbers Might Have Been Home Grown Terrorists

KATU ABC 2
Eric Mason, KATU News
John Stevens, International News
November 13, 2003

PORTLAND — A list of possible terror targets compiled by an ultra-right wing group, including government buildings and other facilities were made public Thursday as a federal judge sentenced a Portland area man for his part in a 1997 bank robbery.

After the sentencing of Fritz Springmeier, a self-described religious author, Clackamas County Sheriff deputies revealed a loose-leaf binder seized in 2001 as a part of the case.

Springmeier, a white separatist known for his anti-government writings will serve 9 years in federal prison.  Federal Judge James Redden characterized the robbery that included the detonation of a pipe bomb as a diversion as “vicious.”

Among the locations handwritten in the binder entitled “Army of God, Yahweh’s Warriors, were the federal building, FBI offices, and KATU studios in Portland.

Floor plans to the FBI offices were also a part of the evidence seized in a raid on property near Corbett on February 9, 2001.

In the raid, federal agents also seized a cache of military-style assault weapons, including an AK-47, hand grenades, C-4 explosives, and bomb-making ingredients that included ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

“We take it (the target lists) very seriously,” says Steve Thoroughman, a detective with Clackamas County, and the lead investigator of the U.S.  government’s case against Springmeier and his accomplice Forrest Bateman, who was convicted and sentenced earlier this year in connection with the bank robbery.

Thoroughman says agents of the FBI and ATF have reviewed the hand-written notes and have followed up on those leads.

“They had the means to do almost anything they wanted to,” said Thoroughman.  They had fully automatic AK-47’s, they had night vision, they had ceramic body armor, anything they needed to carry out an assault.”

Federal prosecutors say the handwritten notes were a clue to the workings of the group, but without additional overt acts they did not provide enough evidence to prove a conspiracy.

“We had to have more to make that kind of a case,” said Frank Noonan, the U.S.  attorney who prosecuted Springmeier.

Springmeier’s wife Patricia says her husband first met Bateman at a bible study in 1995.

“He knew the bible forward and backward, and that’s why they first got together,” says Patricia Springmeier.

Patricia also says her husband was framed by the federal government for his writings that she believes exposed corruption at high levels of the government.

Just before sentencing Springmeier told the judge that the government had destroyed his life.  As he had during his trial, Springmeier proclaimed his innocence and referred the sentence as a “divine blessing.”