FBI Arrests Seven in Alleged Bomb Plot
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) _ The FBI arrested seven people with connections to a West Virginia militia group on charges they plotted to blow up the FBI’s national fingerprint records complex.
The seven were arrested on various charges, including conspiring to make bombs, transporting explosives across state lines and plotting to place explosives near the fingerprint center in Clarksburg.
Most of the seven, who were in FBI custody in Huntington and Clarksburg, were members of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia, authorities said.
One is a member of the Clarksburg Fire Department, who is charged with providing photos of construction blueprints of the center the FBI has used for more than a year to house fingerprint records gathered from police departments nationwide for criminal identification.
The FBI said those arrested were Floyd Raymond Looker, 56, of Stonewood, commander of the Mountain Militia; Jack Arland Phillips, 57, of Fairmont; Edward F. Moore, 52, of Lavalette; and fire Lt. James Rogers, 40, of Jane Lew.
Also, James M. Johnson, 48, of Maple Heights, Ohio; Terrell P. Coon, 46, of Waynesburg, Pa.; and Imam A. Lewis, 26, of Cleveland.
The government said the arrests were part of a 16-month investigation.
An undercover agent posing as a broker for terrorists gave Looker $50,000 today in exchange for a package including the blueprints, said John P. O’Connor, FBI special agent in charge.
``There was a plot. It was ended before it could be consummated,″ O’Connor said.
All seven suspects were arrested today without incident but Looker and Coon had guns, he said.
Looker, a real estate developer, has claimed his group has members in all of West Virginia’s 55 counties, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Looker never said how many are in the group, which bars outside observers from its drills. ``You don’t divulge your strength or weakness to the enemy. Currently, it’s Bill Clinton and the press,″ Looker has been quoted as saying.
Looker and Coon are charged with transporting explosive materials across state lines.
Looker last year denounced the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City and alleged it was done by federal agents to create an excuse for cracking down on the militia movement.
An unsuccessful candidate for the state legislature in 1994, Looker contends the federal government is trying to take guns away from the American people.
In a pamphlet Looker wrote and distributes, he also asserts that 1 million troops of the United Nations are stationed at U.S. military bases and that the government has set up 130 concentration camps at abandoned military bases to house ``law-abiding citizens.″
Located 120 miles south of Pittsburgh, the $200 million Criminal Justice Information Services Division complex eventually will employ 2,600 people. It also will house the National Criminal Information Center and the Uniform Crime Reporting Center, FBI units now located in Washington.
The fingerprint identification facility will use computer programs to enable fingerprints to be converted into electronic images. This will enable the FBI to perform fingerprint identification in a matter of hours instead of weeks or months.
Automated criminal record-keeping will also be available for background checks whether it is a person seeking a job at a day-care center or someone trying to buy a handgun.
Surrounding hills naturally hide the facility from public view and federal officers stop all cars at two main entrances.
The National Crime Information Center receives more than a million inquiries, and the fingerprint center receives 50,000 pieces of mail.
Most of the workers at the center are West Virginians. Most employees in Washington decided against transferring to the facility.
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., was instrumental in attaching language to legislation that forced the FBI to move the facility to his home state.