Three men who admitted plotting to attack US agencies to inspire anti-government militants to similar acts of violent revolution were each sentenced to 12 years in prison on Friday, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say Brian Cannon, 37, Terry Peace, 47, and Cory Williamson, 29, discussed fomenting a rebellion against the US government last year in online chat rooms frequented by militia members. Prosecutors said the men asked a participant in the chatroom, who eventually contacted the FBI and assisted in its investigation, to provide them with 12 pipe bombs and two incendiary devices for the planned attacks.
"In this case, anti-government ideology and rhetoric morphed into dangerous extremism and led these defendants to arm themselves and travel to a meeting to pick up pipe bombs and other explosives intended for attacks," US Attorney John Horn said in a written statement announcing the sentences.
"The attacks planned by the defendants, while rare, posed a serious threat to not only the safety of our public servants, but also all other members of the community," Horn said.
Prosecutors say that during their chat room conversations in early 2014, Cannon, Peace and Williamson discussed starting a revolution against the US government by attacking infrastructure supporting the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
The three men intended to forcibly remove federal officials who they felt had acted beyond the scope of the US Constitution, according to prosecutors.
By February of that year Cannon and Williamson had moved to Rome, Georgia, where they lived with Peace. They were heavily armed when arrested traveling to Cartersville, Georgia, to pick up the pipe bombs and incendiary devices they had requested from the cooperating witness.
All three pleaded guilty in May to federal charges of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction in attacks against the US government.