Texas terror suspect planned mosque attack, officials say
Robert James Talbot Jr. considered himself a revolutionary seeking to create a different society by robbing an armored car, killing police and even blazing a bloody path though a service at a mosque where he would shoot men, women and children at prayer, officials said.
Talbot was ordered held without bond Wednesday at a hearing in Houston, Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for Kenneth Magidson, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Texas, said in an email. Talbot, 38, of Katy, Texas, was arrested last week, but government terror experts gave new details at Tuesday’s hearing on what they said were his plans.
When Talbot was taken into custody, prosecutors released documents outlining what they said was his effort to recruit five or six like-minded individuals “to blow up government buildings, rob banks and kill law enforcement officers. Talbot created a Facebook page titled “American Insurgent Movement,” the complaint alleged.
His goal as stated on Facebook, according to the complaint, was to create a “a Pre-Constitutionalist Community ... [for] those who seek True patriotism and are looking for absolute Freedom by doing the Will of God. Who want to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.”
The complaint alleges that in a March 15 Facebook post, Talbot said: “In a few weeks me and my team are goin active for Operation Liberty…I will not be able to post no more. We will be the revolution, things will happen nation wide or in the states. They will call us many names and spin things around on media. Just remember we fight to stop Marxism, liberalism, Central banking Cartels and the New World Order.”
Officials went further during the Tuesday hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy, who ordered Talbot held without bail on charges including attempted interference with commerce by robbery, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of an explosive material. If convicted of the top charge, Talbot faces more than 20 years in prison.
FBI special agent Renee Cline testified at the hearing that Talbot “wanted to go to a mosque on Friday and take women, children, men and shoot them,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Cline added that Talbot planned to hit the mosque during a prayer session when the most people would be there.
Talbot whispered with his public defender, who told the judge there was no evidence Talbot had hurt anyone.
The Chronicle reported: “But citing concern for what she described as ‘objects of Mr. Talbot’s hatred,’ including law enforcement officers and Muslims, Stacy said, ‘I can’t think of any conditions that I could come up with that would guarantee safety of the community and ensure he would make court appearances.’ ”
Cline, who is part of a domestic terrorism task force, said Talbot had come up in two previous investigations, one in Albany, N.Y., and another in Detroit, but in August 2013 agents learned he had moved to Houston and was using the Internet to recruit, the Chronicle reported. She did not say why Talbot moved, but said he held a few temporary jobs and had purchased a Glock handgun. He lived briefly in the Katy area, outside Houston, is not married and has no children.
Cline said the views Talbot shared online were deemed so violent that he was banned from two militia chat rooms. The FBI began monitoring him, using undercover agents and informants, the newspaper reported.
Talbot is accused of telling the undercover agents that he needed to rob banks and armored cars for funds to buy bigger weapons. He was recorded while staking out operations and honed in on one armored car that authorities said would have been carrying more than $300,000 by the end of its rounds, the Chronicle reported.
Talbot also allegedly had a personal score to settle. Authorities say Talbot said he wanted to kill a Texas state trooper who arrested him in January for allegedly driving under the influence, and to set a trap for more officers, according to the Chronicle.
Talbot wanted a team of like-minded insurgents to come with him to Washington, D.C., but first wanted to attack a mosque as training.
“He cannot stand the federal government, this is the U.S. government,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Carolyn Ferko said. “This defendant is not going to obey, follow or do anything the U.S. government tells him to do,” the Chronicle reported.
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