A pair of men in southern Georgia have been charged with plotting to attack a research lab in Alaska over a fringe conspiracy theory.
According to NBC affiliate WALB, Coffee County Sheriff’s investigators arrested Michael Mancil, 30, and James Dryden Jr., 22 last Thursday and confiscated a small arsenal of weapons.
Four AR-15 rifles, as many Glock hand guns, a Remington rifle and 2-3,000 rounds of ammunition were reportedly recovered along with marijuana and cash.
While the men were originally under investigation for selling drugs, Detective Michael Vickers told Alaska Dispatch News that the men had also been planning a terrorist attack.
“All I can tell you is they were planning on blowing up the machine,” Vickers said. “Going to try to find a scientist, to steal his car and ID badge to gain access. Any scientist.”
They wanted to destroy the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), Sheriff Doyle Wooten tells WALB, because “God told them to go and blow this machine up that kept souls, so souls could be released.”
A local gun shop also alerted investigators to the fact that Mancil was trying to buy a large amount of weapons.
“He’s never known to be violent. This past four to six weeks he just snapped and just changed. His whole personality changed,” said Wooten.
“It’s important to remember that actually this is a scientific research facility,” says Marmian Grimes, spokeswoman for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which took over the station from the US Air Force last year.
Although it is just a long-running study of the high-altitude ionosphere, HAARP has been the subject of bizarre and dubious obsessions for a long time.
Internet personality Alex Jones has long promoted silly narratives that the program is a ‘weather weapon’ that allows the government to manipulate hurricanes and tornadoes. He is but the most well-known example of the hacks and frauds who peddle this nonsense: Nick Begich, who claims a fake doctorate, has built an entire career out of HAARP as a guest on the frivolous talk radio program Coast to Coast AM.
What’s important to note here is that, while these conspiracy propagandists demand to be taken seriously, they always disclaim responsibility whenever armed, ignorant people actually do take them seriously.
Of course, there may be other factors involved, such as the looming election of the much-demonized Hillary Clinton, which is driving the paranoid right wing to utter distraction.
“He’s never known to be violent,” Sheriff Wooten says of Mancil. “This past four to six weeks he just snapped and just changed. His whole personality changed.”
Sadly, we may see a lot more stories like this after next week.
The news report from WALB:
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