Michael Roark – A murder case underway in rural southeast Georgia has unearthed the existence of an anarchist militia group that grew out of the Fort Stewart Army base with the goal of recruiting members from the Army and stockpiling enough sophisticated weaponry to take over the government and assassinate the president.
Prosecutors allege that the four members of the group who are on trial in Long County, Georgia, killed a former group member Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend by shooting them in the head to keep them silent about the militia’s activities.
The militia, made up completely of active and former U.S. military, spent $87,000 buying guns and bomb parts to begin activating its plans. The name of the was F.E.A.R., short for Forever Enduring Always Ready, but authorities still aren’t sure how many members it had.
The four members on trial are being charged by state authorities with malice murder, felony murder, criminal gang activity, aggravated assault and using a firearm while committing a felony. Prosecutors accuse them of killing former soldier Roark, 19, and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York, by shooting them in the woods last December in cold-blooded fashion.
“This domestic terrorist organization did not simply plan and talk,” prosecutor Isabel Pauley told a Superior Court judge. “Prior to the murders in this case, the group took action. Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans.”
One of the four members, Pfc. Michael Burnett, turned on the others and assisted prosecutors, in exchange pleading guilty to the lesser crimes of manslaughter and illegal gang activity, in addition to other chages.
According to prosecutors, the group’s ringleader was Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, who was joined in the plot by Sgt. Anthony Peden and Pvt. Christopher Salmon.
To fund the militia and buy weaponry, Aguigui used the proceeds from the $500,000 he was paid out from his pregnant wife’s insurance policy when she died a year ago. Though Aguigui was not charged in her death, Pauley told the judge her death was “highly suspicious.”
She said Aguigui used the money to buy $87,000 worth of semiautomatic assault rifles, other guns and bomb components that were recovered from the accused soldiers’ homes and from a storage locker. He also used the insurance payments to buy land for his militia group in Washington state, Pauley said.
The murdered Roark served with the four defendants in the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. Two days after Roark left the Army, the four accused men, believing Roark had betrayed them, lured him and girlfriend to the woods under the guise they were going target shooting, Burnett said. He said Peden shot Roark’s girlfriend in the head while she was trying to get out of her car, while Salmon made Roark get on his knees and shot him twice in the head. Burnett said Aguigui ordered the killings.“A ‘loose end’ is the way Isaac put it,” Burnett said. Also charged in the killings is Salmon’s wife, Heather Salmon.
In a videotaped interview with military investigators, Pauley said that Aguigui referred to himself as “the nicest cold-blooded murderer you will ever meet” and he used the Army to recruit militia members, who wore distinctive tattoos that resemble an anarchy symbol.
“All members of the group were on active-duty or were former members of the military,” Pauley said. “He targeted soldiers who were in trouble or disillusioned.”The prosecutor said the militia had plans to take over Fort Stewart by seizing its ammunition control point and talked of bombing the Forsyth Park fountain in nearby Savannah, she said. In Washington state, she added, the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state’s apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia’s goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president.
Ed Aguigui told Hatewatch of the Southern Poverty Law Center that he had “no clue” where was the land in Washington State that reportedly was purchased by his son and members of his militia group. “I served my country for 20 years and I honor that, take pride in that,” Ed Aguigui said when asked about his son’s alleged antigovernment activities. “I don’t know what my son’s views are, and where they came from.”According to Gloria Aguigui, the suspect’s grandmother, the Aguigui family is from Guam. Annette Aguigui, the suspect’s mother, homeschooled Isaac and his five brothers and sister while their father spent a career as a U.S. Army combat engineer. “When they were little kids, they weren’t even allowed to have guns,” Gloria Aguigui told Hatewatch. “Isaac never got into trouble, and was always helping out. I have no idea what happened.”