When FBI agents searched a rented storage locker in a small east Texas town last year, they were alarmed to discover a huge cache of weapons and the ingredients to make a cyanide bomb capable of killing thousands.
Just as startling was the identity of the owner of the arsenal, which included nearly half a million rounds of ammunition and more than 60 pipe bombs. He was not some foreign terrorist with ties to Al Qaeda but a 63-year-old Texan with an affinity for anti-government militias and white supremacist views.
William Krar, an itinerant gun dealer, quickly pleaded guilty to possession of the chemical weapon and then promptly clammed up, leaving federal officials to wonder what he intended to do with his deadly arsenal and whether his conspiracy extended beyond two known accomplices who pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
Experts who track domestic terrorist groups would like to know as well. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred nine years ago Monday, led to a period of disarray and decline for militias, but anti-government right-wing extremists remain a largely hidden threat of unknown proportions.
With the nation focused on terrorist threats from abroad in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, experts wonder if the Krar case, which FBI agents discovered only by accident, could be a harbinger of homegrown attacks to come.
"All of this homeland security, all of the orientation of the government's war on terror is about protecting our borders," said Ken Toole, director of the Montana Human Rights Network, which monitors right-wing groups. "We're moving back into this period where radical right-wing activism is being dismissed as goofy and loopy, whereas the Al Qaeda threat is around every corner. But the right-wingers are much closer to home. And they are still there."
Mark Pitcavage, director of fact-finding for the Anti-Defamation League, noted that criminal acts by right-wing extremists "remain at a very high level," including the slayings of three law enforcement officers last year.
Texas? Yikes, that is close to home.
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Fears rise anew over homegrown terrorists
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