Oklahoma Man Charged in Anti-Government Bomb Plot

(The Washington Post) -
Jerry Drake Varnell, of Sayre, Okla., who was arrested Saturday, in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb in an alley adjacent to BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. (Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP)

The FBI has arrested an Oklahoma man on charges that he tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb outside a bank, acting out of a hatred for the U.S. government and an admiration for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, according to court papers.

Jerry Drake Varnell was arrested shortly after a Friday night attempt to detonate a fake bomb packed into what he believed was a stolen cargo van outside the bank in Oklahoma City, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

According to the complaint, over the course of a months-long undercover investigation by the FBI, Varnell made repeated statements about the extent of his hatred of the federal government.

In one conversation he said he believed in the “Three Percenter” ideology — a form of anti-government activism that pledges resistance against the United States government on the belief it has infringed on the Constitution, according to court papers. Those who subscribe to the ideology incorrectly believe that only 3 percent of the colonial population participated in the American Revolution, and they see themselves as their heirs.

According to the complaint, Varnell expressed a desire to blow up buildings, but in a way that would minimize deaths or casualties, possibly by detonating the device at night when offices would be mostly empty.

Authorities said Varnell attempted to detonate the fake bomb at 6:30 p.m. Friday. He was taken into custody shortly after midnight, according to the complaint.

Authorities are expected to announce his arrest later Monday.