Feds want to know what Texas couple planned to do with cyanide

Saturday, January 31, 2004

NOONDAY, Texas -- William Krar and Judith Bruey assembled a frightening arsenal in three rented storage units in this East Texas town, and federal authorities are trying to figure out why.

A raid in April found nearly two pounds of a cyanide compound and other chemicals that could create enough poisonous gas to kill everyone inside a space as large as a big-chain bookstore or a small-town civic center.

Authorities also discovered nearly half a million rounds of ammunition, more than 60 pipe bombs, machine guns, silencers and remote-controlled bombs disguised as briefcases, plus pamphlets on how to make chemical weapons, and anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-government books.

The findings have led to one of the most extensive domestic-terrorism investigations since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

For federal investigators, one question lingers: What did Krar and Bruey intend to do with the weapons?

"There's no other reason for anyone to possess that type of device other than to kill people," said Brit Featherston, a federal prosecutor and the government's anti-terrorism coordinator in Texas' eastern district. "The arsenal found in those searches had the capability of terrorizing a lot of people."

In November, Krar, 62, pleaded guilty to possessing a dangerous chemical weapon. He could go to prison, but the law does not specify a minimum or maximum. Bruey, 54, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess illegal weapons and could get up to five years in prison. The couple remain in jail. Sentencing is expected next month.

Kept at storage unit

Krar and Bruey moved to a house in Tyler from New Hampshire about two years ago, though federal authorities do not know why.

They soon rented space at Noonday Storage and for more than a year visited their units each morning, spending hours unloading U-hauls of military surplus items or picking through piles of bathing suits and beer coolers they said they resold at shops and markets.

"We never had any problems out of them and never suspected anything out of them," said Teresa Staples, who owns the storage business in this community of 500 people about 100 miles southeast of Dallas.

Krar's attorney, Tonda Curry, acknowledges that Krar owned illegal weapons, but said there is no evidence he planned to use them.

"It was not a situation where they were at arm's reach, ready to respond to some invasion. They were miles away stored," she said. "Nothing I've seen from the government or from him indicates that the United States as a country had any reason to be afraid of Bill Krar."

Some contend the government is so focused on foreign terror threats that it overlooks domestic dangers.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that had these men been affiliated with al-Qaida, we would have heard more," said Daniel Levitas, author of the book "The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right." "There is something of a blind spot within the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., when it comes to the violent potential of America's own homegrown version of al-Qaida."

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