Brian Cannon, 37, Terry Peace, 47, and Cory Williamson, 29, have been sentenced for conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction in attacks against federal government agencies. The defendants planned to attack critical infrastructure while motivating militia groups in other states to rise up and join them in removing government officials who they believed had exceeded their Constitutional power.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia. “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.”
“This case illustrates the FBI’s commitment in preventing attacks instead of responding to their aftermath,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson for the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office. “The convictions and now federal sentencing of these individuals on conspiracy charges again represents that the juries and courts understand this shift in the law enforcement mindset in dealing with individuals or groups that wish to bring harm to the public or those who serve the public.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: In January and February 2014, Cannon, Peace and Williamson participated in Internet chat rooms frequented by militia members and others with a shared anti-government ideology. During the chat room conversations, Cannon, Peace and Williamson discussed starting a revolution against the federal government by conducting an attack aimed at the infrastructure supporting the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
According to their conversations, their goals included forcibly removing government officials who the defendants believed acted beyond the scope of the U.S. Constitution. During one of the online conversations, Peace said that they would launch the attack between February 1, and Feb. 15, 2014. He encouraged the militia members to review guerilla warfare tactics, accumulate supplies and prepare their families. By Feb. 1, 2014, Cannon and Williamson had moved to Georgia and were living with Peace at his Rome, Georgia residence.
Cannon, Peace and Williamson targeted the infrastructure supporting their federal agency targets because they believed this would reduce the amount of unnecessary casualties and make it difficult for the government to respond to their attack. The men decided to launch the first attack in Georgia to prompt militia members in other states to begin attacks in their respective states.
Unbeknownst to the defendants, another participant in the chat rooms became alarmed at their plans, informed the FBI of the attack against the government, and agreed to assist in this investigation.
On Feb. 8, 2014, Peace asked the cooperating witness to provide twelve pipe bombs and two thermite devices for use in their attack. Peace said he wanted the pipe bombs designed for “maximum fragmentation” and thermite devices capable of penetrating the engine block of a military-grade armored vehicle. Peace, Cannon and Williamson then made plans to meet with the cooperating witness after the pipe bombs and thermite devices were constructed.
On Feb. 15, 2014, the defendants, armed with numerous firearms, drove from Peace’s residence to meet with the cooperating witness at a location in Cartersville, Georgia, to pick up the pipe bombs and thermite devices. Prior to their arrival, the cooperating witness was provided with 12 inert pipe bombs and two inert thermite devices. The three defendants were arrested as they were taking possession of the items. While their online conversations reflected attacks on federal targets, the defendants planned to use the thermite device at a local police department.
Cannon has been sentenced to 12 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and perform 100 hours of community service.
Peace has been sentenced to 12 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and perform 100 hours of community service.
Williamson has been sentenced to 12 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and perform 100 hours of community service.
Cannon, Peace and Williamson were convicted of the charges on May 26, 2015 after pleading guilty.
This case was investigated by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorneys Tracia M. King and Ryan K. Buchanan prosecuted the case.