Leaders of the West Virginia Mountaineer Militia were suspicious that federal authorities knew of their plans to blow up three federal buildings.
They even ordered one member to remove his shirt one day to prove that he wasn’t wearing a wire.
They asked on the wrong day, according to court documents.
The member was an informant who had been secretly recording members conspiring to destroy the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division complex in Clarksburg, about 80 miles south of Pittsburgh, and two other government buildings in West Virginia, the documents say.
The information he provided led to the arrest Friday of seven men linked to the militia on conspiracy charges. They were being held Saturday pending detention hearings this week.
The informant had gone to the FBI 16 months ago after becoming disenchanted with the group’s activities, which included making and testing home-made explosives, U.S. Attorney William D. Wilmoth said Saturday.
At least one militia member, according to the informant, believed the FBI complex contained a clandestine operation that might be a command center when the government turned against the people under the “new world order,” according to court documents.
Prosecutors do not believe the alleged conspiracy was linked to anti-government groups in other states.
“I don’t want it to appear to be some nationwide conspiracy or anything more grave than the charging documents show. As far as we could tell, it was localized,” Wilmoth said.
The Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which opened last year, houses fingerprint records the FBI has collected from police departments nationwide.
The $200 million center eventually will use computer programs to convert fingerprints into electronic images, enabling the FBI to perform fingerprint checks in a matter of hours instead of weeks.
The conspiracy charges carry maximum penalties of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The other counts each carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.