Oklahoma City was saved Saturday from a potential bombing from an anti-government domestic terrorist. Twenty-three-year-old Jerry Drake Varnell arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) when he tried to detonate what he thought was a gigantic 1,000 pound bomb right outside an Oklahoma bank. Fortunately, it was a fake bomb and no one was injured.
Varnell had been plotting the attack for months, even expressing admiration for 1995 Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, but an informant notified the FBI back in December who said that “Varnell was upset with the government and was seeking retaliation.”
The confidential information on Varnell was the beginning of a months-long undercover operation. The informant corresponded for the entire time with Varnell, mainly via text messages. In a federal complaint filed early Sunday, the informant mentioned that Varnell at one point was targeting the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C. He also wanted to use a device similar to the one used by Timothy McVeigh in 1995, which killed 168 people.
“I’m out for blood.”
In another one of Varnell’s texts, he says that “when militias start getting formed I’m going after government officials when I have a team.”
According to the informant, Varnell also mentioned following the “Three Percenter” ideology, which consists in pledging resistance against the government and allegiance to the Constitution. Three Percenters believe that the U.S. Government goes against the supreme law. They also believe to be heirs of the 3 percent of the colonial people who participated in the American Revolution.
Also discussed in the texts were other possible targets, including an IRS building in Maryland and a Bank of America data center in Texas. While his idea was to blow up buildings to protest the government, he wasn’t really looking at killing innocent people. His plans always included detonating the devices at night or the weekend, when the offices would be mostly empty.
When he finally settled for his target, he watched the bomb as it was being built on Friday evening, he drove it to an alley adjacent to the bank building and retreated to a remote location. Just after midnight he tried twice to detonate the device — which was a fake bomb — and was apprehended shortly thereafter.
Varnell had also prepared a statement to be posted on Facebook after the fact.
“[It was] retaliation against the freedoms that have been taken away from the American people […] an act done to show the government what the people think of its actions.”
If convicted of attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in interstate commerce, he faces 20 years in prison.
[Featured Image by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections/AP]