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Suspects Preached Anti-Government Militancy Pair Attended Christian Identity Church In Sandpoint And Served Time Last Year On Weapons, Drug Charges

Copyright 1996, The Spokesman-Review

A North Idaho man now linked to the Spokane Valley bombings claimed last year he belonged to a small group of patriots preparing to battle the federal government.

“We have to be ready to conduct guerrilla warfare,” Charles H. Barbee said in an interview last October. “That’s how it will be won.”

Barbee said the group would lash out against government tyranny such as the Randy Weaver siege and the burning of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

“If there’s another Ruby Ridge or another Waco, we’re not going to tolerate it again,” Barbee boasted.

“If the federal government sends in their armies to put women and children to death again, we will respond and put as many federal agents to death as possible.”

Law enforcement sources said Barbee, 44, and Robert S. Berry, 42, both of Sandpoint, were arrested Tuesday in Yakima by FBI agents.

Authorities suspect the men and others may be linked to a small group of anti-government radicals who robbed the same Spokane bank twice and detonated three bombs earlier this year.

Barbee and Berry spent about a month in jail last year after being arrested in Kelso, Wash., with a Chevrolet Suburban carrying surplus Army equipment and small bags of marijuana.

Police arrested the two men on May 2, 1995, after they had checked out of a motel and a maid found a .357-caliber revolver left under a pillow.

The Suburban was loaded with fire bombs, rifles, silencers, police radio scanners, range finders, camouflage outfits and 100 silver bars and coins.

Authorities said Berry apparently had borrowed the Suburban from his brother Curtis, who lives in Sandpoint. A Suburban seized during Tuesday’s arrests in Yakima is registered to Curtis Berry.

Barbee and Robert Berry were convicted in state court of carrying concealed weapons without permits and possessing marijuana for the Kelso incident.

Barbee said he and Berry were visiting Fort Lewis near Tacoma to buy surplus military gear shortly before their arrests. At that time, Berry listed an address in Auburn, Wash.

Kelso Sgt. Vern Thompson suspected the men were trading dope for military supplies. “I’ve got to think they were up to something with all that gear,” he said last year.

Not so, Barbee said in the interview last fall.

He and Berry were simply well-equipped patriots, prepared to defend themselves against government tyranny. The handgun found at the motel was Berry’s and the marijuana was for their personal use, Barbee said.

Barbee said he moved from Florida to North Idaho three years ago after being transferred by his employer, AT&T.; He quit his $50,000-a-year supervisory job about one year later.

“It’s not a moral company,” he said. AT&T; held gay and lesbian awareness sessions, which he refused to attend, and “coerced managers to join United Way.”

“Half the people I worked with were women. They were working instead of being help-mates to their husbands, as God requires.”

Barbee, raised Roman Catholic by his grandparents, began reading Christian Identity books in Florida. Christian Identity is a white separatist religion that preaches northern Europeans are the true Israelites. In Sandpoint, he attended David Barley’s America’s Promise Ministries, a Christian Identity church. That’s where he met Berry.

In last year’s interview, Barbee said he was self-employed, dealing in surplus military gear. He tended a large garden and hunted to feed his wife and his two children, who were home-schooled.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos (1 color)

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