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Video: Supremacist group may have ties to bomb plot

  1. Transcript of: Supremacist group may have ties to bomb plot

    MADDOW: Interrupting our on-going Japan coverage for just a moment now to bring you a domestic news story we wanted to make sure we got on the air tonight. Authorities in Alaska say they have arrested five people for allegedly plotting to kill multiple Alaska state troopers and a federal judge . One of the suspects is this man, Francis "Schaeffer" Cox, the founder and leader of an Alaska militia group . He's former candidate for Alaska state legislature and he is an outspoken guns advocate. Fairbanks police chief says the arrests yesterday targeted members of the Sovereign Citizens Movement . It's described by the FBI as a domestic terrorist movement. So-called Sovereign citizens are anti- government extremist who believe they're not subject to federal, state, or local laws and many of them preach violent resistance to any form of governmental authority. Scott Roeder who killed abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller , in 2009 -- he was linked to the Sovereign Citizens Movement -- as was Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh 's associate Terry Nichols , as was a man named Jerry Kane , who along with his 16-year-old son killed two Arkansas police officers and wounded two others last year before they themselves were killed by police. Also, there has been an arrest this week in the Spokane , Washington , Martin Luther King Day bomb, which was feared to be linked to the white supremacist movement responsible for other bombings in the Pacific Northwest in years past. In January 17th this year, what was later described by authorities as sophisticated and, quote, "very lethal bomb," was found on a bench in a backpack along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane . The bomb didn't go off because a handful of local workers found it before the start of the parade and reported it, and the bomb squad was able to diffuse the device in time. Yesterday, in rural Washington -- excuse me -- two days ago in Washington state , about 70 mile s outside Spokane , federal agents arrested a suspect in that bombing attempt near his home. This is well north of Spokane . You may remember that along with the bomb that ultimately did not go off, two t-shirts were found inside the backpack along the Spokane parade route. Those t-shirts were tied to events from the area where the suspect was arrested on Wednesday. The suspect is a 36-year-old man named Kevin Harpham . A spokesman at Fort Lewis , which is now Joint Base Lewis McChord , confirmed to " The Seattle Times " this week that Mr. Harpham had served in the Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis between 1996 and 1999 . The complaint against Mr. Harpham this week charges that he attempted to use a weapon of mass destruction , an improvised explosive device , placed prior to along the planned route of the Martin Luther King Jr. unity march. This man is also charged with possession of an unregistered explosive device . He is facing life in prison. A federal law enforcement official speaking about the case anonymously to " The New York Times " said it's unclear at this point whether the perpetrator acted alone. The source also said Mr. Harpham could eventually face more charges. The arrest documents are sealed but an anonymous source described as familiar with the investigation by " The Seattle Times " told that paper that authorities were able to link Mr. Harpham to purchases of bomb components, including a remote car starter and other electronics. And that at least one purchase was made with a debit card. The source also says DNA recovered in the backpack or on the bomb was linked to Mr. Harpham . The day after the attempted bombing in January, the FBI special agent in charge of the Spokane FBI office told " The_Spokesman -Review" that the bomb appeared to have been, quote, "a viable device that was very lethal and had the potential to inflict multiple casualties." But he also talked about potential motive saying, quote, "I think the link to the Martin Luther King celebration and march is inescapable. At that point, it falls directly in the realm and sphere of domestic terrorism. Clearly there was some political or social agenda here." That was what the FBI was saying about this attempted bombing in its immediate aftermath. Now, with the suspect in custody, federal authorities are saying essentially nothing about any potential motive, racial or otherwise. But, the Southern Poverty Law Center , an organization that tracks hate groups, says that its own research shows that the man arrested was a member of a white supremacists group called the National Alliance in late 2004 . The National Alliance is happy for you to know that they are in fact a white supremacists group but they are denying that Mr. Harpham was ever a member. If you know one thing about this group, National Alliance , other than its connection to this case, what you probably know is about its founder. National Alliance was founded by a man named William Pierce . William Pierce is dead now. He is less famous for starting a white supremacists group than he is for writing a white supremacists novel called " The Turner Diaries ." " The Turner Diaries " describes a violent overthrow of the United States government by white supremacists . Clippings from " The Turner Diaries " were found in the car that Timothy McVeigh was driving when he was arrested after bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City . The book is believed to be part of Mr. McVeigh 's inspiration for that crime. Although authorities are not commenting on links between the suspect arrested in the Spokane bombing yesterday and white supremacists organizations, reporter Thomas Clouse with " The_Spokesman -Review" newspaper said today -- excuse me -- said yesterday that "investigators believe Mr. Harpham posted more than a thousand entries talking about a race war and bombs on a racist Internet forum ." The paper reports that authorities will not publicly confirm it but they believe Kevin Harpham was posting to a site called the Vanguard News Network . If they're right about him using that site and they're right about what screen name he was using at that site, then this November 2004 , entry is from him. Quote, "In the Army , my lieutenant told me Timothy McVeigh read ' The Turner Diaries ' and that there was a blueprint for a truck bomb in it. After I was out of the service and was getting to the point of advanced antigovernment libertarianism, I bought the book and when I was finished I was extremely disappointed that there was no plans for a bomb inside." When Kevin Harpham appeared in court this week, he acknowledged that he understands the charges against him and waived his bail hearing. A grand jury will meet later this month to decide if there's enough evidence to indict him. And in the meantime, he will stay in custody. We were the first news outlet to give this story significant national attention. We will continue to track it and we'll keep you posted. We'll also be right back.

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