Three Rome men accused of conspiring to obtain explosives now face a much more serious domestic terrorism charge — conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
Terry Eugene Peace, Brian Edward Cannon and Cory Robert Williamson on Monday waived arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the domestic terrorism charge as well as charges of conspiring to defraud the government.
Use of weapons of mass destruction can carry up to a life term in prison in this case, according to the law website Justia.com.
According to the indictment and criminal complaint:
Peace, Cannon and Williamson — all members of a militia in Georgia — participated in online chat discussions between Jan. 23 and Feb. 15, 2014, that were monitored by the FBI.
During the conversations online, they discussed using guerilla war tactics and planned to launch attacks against a metro Atlanta police station and several government agencies in February 2014.
The three men attempted to “recruit other individuals to join them and to carry out similar operations in those individuals’ home states.”
Peace allegedly told other militia members to choose targets including “road blocks, TSA checkpoints, sheriffs/police conducting operations outside the Constitution” as well as to participate in the “removal of government people who support extra-Constitutional activities.”
In February 2014, the men traveled from Rome to Tennessee for a meeting with an undercover FBI source about getting several explosive devices, including a thermite-mix charge and a dozen pipe bombs constructed for “maximum fragmentation.”
Phone conversations with an informant recorded Peace requesting explosives and telling the informant the devices were a “key element” to their plan.
The men were arrested in Cartersville on Feb. 15, 2014, when they took possession of inert explosives and other material given to the source by the FBI.
The three were originally arraigned in March 2014 on a charge of conspiracy to receive and possess a destructive device. The new indictment and charge supersedes the previous indictment.
Government attorneys said in open court the new charge of use of weapons of mass destruction had to be approved by an agency in Washington, D.C., before they could pursue the new indictment of the three men.
Lawyers for the three men declined to comment on the new charge.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 20.