While some Texans were planning to monitor American soldiers during Jade Helm exercises, three men in North Carolina were plotting to kill them.
The FBI used wire taps, visual surveillance and a secret informant to track the alleged terrorists as they stockpiled weapons and gathered components to make explosives.
According to court documents, apparent ringleader Walter Eugene Litteral owned 99 acres in South Carolina and “intended to booby-trap the camp and draw government forces into the camp and kill them.”
He and two others, Christopher Barker, 41, and Christopher Campbell, 30, were arrested Saturday after a more-than-month-long surveillance operation by the FBI.
It started on June 18th, when the owner of a North Carolina military surplus store alerted the FBI of suspicious activity.
He said Litteral had patronized his store since March, and had raised concern with Jade Helm, a two-month seven-state special operations exercise that angered many Americans on the extreme fringes of the far right.
News of Jade Helm plans first broke in March, with Texas at the epicenter for its “hostile” label on a military map. Litteral has a son in Texas, according to court documents.
Litteral told the store owner he and others “believe[d] the exercise is a cover for the imposition of martial law in the United States.” The owner understood that the men were preparing to use lethal force to retaliate against government forces.
Litteral had already bought Kevlar body armor and helmets, assault rifle ammunition and radios with throat mics. On June 18, he said he needed smokeless gunpowder for pipe bombs, wanted to pack tennis balls with gun powder and tape nails to the outsides and planned to fill coffee cans with gun powder and ball bearings then detonate them with sniper rifle fire.
And he said he needed it all by July 15—the start date of Jade Helm.
The FBI set up a warranted wiretap and, with the store owner’s permission, installed video and audio surveillance in the shop. Phone records showed Litteral had also tried to purchase “a surgical kit, magazine pouches for an AR-15 and pistol, gas masks, ammunition, hydration carrier, exploding targets and an 8 lb. bottle of black powder.”
In a conversation recorded by the store owner, Litteral said, “Lemme tell you something I gunna have my [expletive] house rigged up. These mother[expletive] come try to come in my house it’s going off.”
“I got a [expletive] .45 beside my bed. I got a .45 and a 9 mil in my truck. I’ve got a 9 mil and a .380 or a .380 in her car. Safe full of weapons. You know what? Every time I open up this [expletive] safe, I mean I’ve got, I’ve got at least 30 weapons that I can see and some tucked all the way in the back, back.”
On July 20 the FBI gathered intelligence suggesting Litteral and his company were in the final stages of acquiring the components of an explosive. Other evidence showed Barker and Campbell were participating in gathering weapons and planning the assault on military personnel.
On Saturday the FBI raided a tattoo parlor owned by Litteral and two homes, arresting all three suspects.
The revealed terror plot comes after recent reporting from the New York Times shows anti-government extremism is among the leading threats perceived by law enforcement, and that right-wing or anti-government militants have killed more Americans since 2001 than Islamist militants on American soil.
Despite widespread fears of a government takeover during Jade Helm, the exercises kicked off and continue with little notice.