Warning that "the Gestapo accounts to no one," a note found at the scene of the fatal train derailment this week in the Arizona desert angrily asserts that federal law enforcement agencies are out of control and calls for a special agency to monitor police and government activities in the United States.
The two-paragraph missive, allegedly written by an group calling itself the Sons of the Gestapo, was found after the derailment Monday of an Amtrak train near the Arizona town of Hyder.
The message is titled "Indictment of the ATF and the FBI," and contends in dramatic narrative that the FBI purposely set a "kerosene fire" in order to kill women and children and burn down the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Tex., in 1993.
The letter also assails alleged abuses by federal agents during the shootout and siege at Ruby Ridge, Ida. And it indirectly refers to questionable practices by the Los Angeles Police Department, specifically the 1991 beating of Rodney G. King and the department's onetime policy allowing officers to place suspects in life-threatening chokeholds.
"Who is policing the ATF, FBI, state troopers, county sheriffs and local police?" asks the letter, a copy of which was obtained Thursday by The Times.
"What federal law enforcement agency investigates each and every chokehold killing committed by a police officer? Each and every beating of a drunk whether or not a passerby videotapes it? Each and every shooting of a police officer's wife who knows too much about drug kickbacks? Each and every killing at Ruby Ridge?"
The letter adds: "The Gestapo accounts to no one. This is not Nazi Germany. All these people had rights. It is time for an independent federal agency to police the law enforcement agencies and other government employees."
The letter was signed "Sons of the Gestapo" and underneath was a salutation: "SOG."
One crew member was killed and at least 78 people were injured when Amtrak's Sunset Limited, bound for Los Angeles, was derailed about 55 miles southwest of Phoenix.
Federal investigators have said saboteurs unbolted a bar that held two of the rails together, and then loosened or removed rail spikes from the tracks.
No arrests have been made in the incident, but sources have said federal officials theorize that the derailment could have been the work of a disgruntled rail employee.
Robert Walsh, an FBI official running the investigation, said Thursday that agents are interviewing Amtrak employees and workers with the Southern Pacific Railroad. He also maintained that the investigation has not been formally narrowed to someone inside the railroad work force.
"It's very broad," he said of the continuing investigation. "It's still open to everyone."