Three Men Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Use Weapons of Mass Destruction
ROME, GA—Brian Cannon, Terry Peace and Cory Williamson have pleaded guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction—specifically, pipe bombs—in attacks against federal government agencies.
“This case is a startling example of militia activists reaching true extremes, as distrust and hatred of government led these defendants to arm themselves, plan attacks against federal agencies, and seek out explosives to attack a local police department,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn. “While this level of extremism is fortunately rare, this case illustrates the threats to all our safety that arise from people who turn their hatred into actions.”
“Through the FBI led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), the FBI and its various law enforcement partners remain vigilant in identifying, investigating and presenting for prosecution individuals such as those seen in this case that would conspire to do harm to the U.S. and its government infrastructure,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office. “The FBI asks that anyone with information regarding such matters to immediately contact their nearest FBI field office.”
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: In January and February 2014, Cannon, Peace and Williamson participated in Internet chat rooms frequented by militia members and others with a shared anti-government ideology. During the chat room conversations, Cannon, Peace, and Williamson discussed starting a revolution against the federal government by conducting an attack aimed at the infrastructure supporting the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
According to their conversation, their goals included forcibly removing government officials who the defendants believed acted beyond the scope of the U.S. Constitution. During one of the online conversations, Peace said they would launch the attack between February 1, and February 15, 2014. He encouraged the militia members to review guerilla warfare tactics, accumulate supplies and prepare their families. By February 1, 2014, Cannon and Williamson had moved to Georgia and were living with Peace at his Rome, Georgia residence.
Cannon, Peace and Williamson targeted the infrastructure supporting their federal agency targets because they believed this would reduce the amount of unnecessary casualties and make it difficult for the government to respond to their attack. The men decided to launch the first attack in Georgia to prompt militia members in other states to begin attacks in their respective states.
Unbeknownst to the defendants, a participant in the chat rooms became alarmed at their plans, informed the FBI of the attack against the government and agreed to assist in this investigation.
On February 8, 2014, Peace asked the cooperating witness to provide twelve pipe bombs and two thermite devices to use in their attack. Peace said he wanted the pipe bombs designed for “maximum fragmentation” and thermite devices capable of penetrating the engine block of a military-grade armored vehicle. Peace, Cannon and Williamson then made plans to meet with the cooperating witness after the pipe bombs and thermite devices were constructed.
On February 15, 2014, the defendants, armed with numerous firearms, drove from Peace’s residence to meet with the cooperating witness at a location in Cartersville, Georgia, to pick up the pipe bombs and thermite devices. Prior to their arrival, the cooperating witness was provided with twelve inert pipe bombs and two inert thermite devices. The three defendants were arrested as they were taking possession of the items. While their online conversations reflected attacks on federal targets, the defendants planned to use the thermite device at a local police department.
Sentencing for Terry Peace, 47, Brian Cannon, 37, and Cory Williamson, 29, all of Rome, Ga., is scheduled for August 7, 2015, at 1:30 p.m., before United States District Judge Harold L. Murphy.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Tracia M. King and Ryan K. Buchanan are prosecuting the case.