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FBI Investigates Whether Militia Members Linked to Amtrak Derailment

July 3, 1996

PHOENIX (AP) _ The FBI said Wednesday it is investigating whether the Arizona militia members arrested in an alleged bomb plot were responsible for the derailment of an Amtrak train last October.

``They are people we will look into as a possibility. They fit a profile for someone who would possibly _ and I underline possibly _ do something like that. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t look into these people,″ said Jack Callahan, a spokesman for the FBI in Phoenix.

However, he added that there is no known link between the militia group and the derailment.

Amtrak’s Sunset Limited plunged 30 feet from a trestle into a dry gulch, killing a crew member and injuring 78 people. Nearby, a passenger found a note signed ``Sons of the Gestapo″ under a rock.

The note contained references to the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and incidents in Waco, Texas, and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, leading investigators to believe there may have been a right-wing connection.

Twelve members of the Viper Militia were arrested Monday on charges of plotting to blow up government buildings. The arrests by ATF agents came after a six-month undercover investigation.

Agents spent Monday and Tuesday searching the defendants’ homes and found automatic and semiautomatic weapons, bombs, grenade launchers, books on ``tactical deception″ and components that could be used to make bombs similar to the one used in Oklahoma City.

Hate-crime experts said they had never heard of the Viper Militia, but some have speculated that the name came from a document titled ``OPLAN American Viper.″

The treatise outlines plans of attack for those opposed to the ``Satanic New World Order.″ It suggests that ``true American patriots″ should train by attacking progressively harder targets.

The first target on the soft target list is ``unguarded rail lines.″

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