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Second militia suspect arrested

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MINNEAPOLIS -- On the day he was arrested last May, Montevideo, Minn., militia group member Buford "Bucky" Rogers told an FBI agent that he knew a man named Keith who was involved in intelligence work for the National Guard and was also involved in militia activity, according to an FBI interview transcript made public Friday.

There is "a high probability" the "Keith" that Rogers named is Keith Novak of Maplewood, Minn., the Guardsman and member of a militia organization who was arrested last week for stealing the names and Social Security numbers of U.S. Army members as part of an identity-theft scheme, according to a source who has knowledge of both cases.

The source said Novak had his security clearance removed last summer when he was under investigation.

The FBI has made no statement that the two men are linked. Both men, however, are alleged by the FBI to have spoken of bombing government facilities, although neither has been charged for such a crime.

Rogers, a member of a small group called the Black Snake Militia, planned an attack on the police station and National Guard facility and the bombing of a radio tower, all in Montevideo, the FBI alleged at the time of his arrest. He was indicted for possessing illegal explosives and a firearm.

An FBI agent testified Monday that Novak belonged to the 44th Spatha Libertas or "Sword of Freedom" militia and had discussed bombing a National Security Agency facility in Utah, although he has not been charged with that. He was described in court documents as a "human intelligence collector" for the Minnesota Army National Guard and an "intelligence analyst" when he was a member of the army's 82nd Airborne Division.

Novak's case has been forwarded to a federal grand jury for possible indictment.

Asked if the "Keith" Rogers spoke about to the FBI was Novak, Nicole Engisch, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis, which is prosecuting both cases, declined to comment.

A redacted portion of the transcript of Rogers' interview was made public by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeanne Graham as a result of a motion filed by Minneapolis Star Tribune attorney John Borger.

A transcript for the first 40 minutes was not released because FBI agent Shane Ball had not yet read Rogers his rights, Graham ruled. But the remaining portion, which lasted about three hours, was made available. Because of the redactions, it is not clear whether Rogers ever mentioned Keith's last name.

Rogers refers to other alleged militia members in the interview, including a man named Tim from Texas who stayed with the Rogers family and left after a disagreement. While it is not spelled out, the FBI has previously referred to an unidentified man who stayed with the family, then fled to Texas and told the FBI Rogers was planning a terrorist attack. That prompted the FBI to arrest Rogers.

If Tim is the informant, Rogers appeared to have a completely different take on the disagreement.

"He likes bombs and the reason we basically just kicked him out of the group is because he was violent and we don't want that kind of (expletive)," Rogers says of Tim. "Everything about law enforcement and government he does not like. And I would consider him dangerous, yes."

Despite the explosive devices the FBI found, Rogers told agent Ball he was opposed to violence, including the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building and the Boston Marathon bombing this year.

"Don't tell anybody this, but I always wanted to be an FBI agent," Rogers told Ball.

If Rogers was questioned about a terror plot, it is not included in the portions of the transcript released Friday.

There are also tantalizing references to a "very violent" person connected with a Russian militia group Rogers said is connected to Los Zetas, a violent criminal syndicate in Mexico.

He also refers to a man named Kyle in a different militia group, "who is going to college" so he can work in an unnamed sheriff's department." In the transcript, Rogers says of that militia group, "I think it's called 44** don't ask me how to spell it." It is unclear if the asterisks are a redaction.

 

-- Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 21, 2013 A26

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