Suspect arrested after allegedly attempting to detonate what he thought was explosive-laden van
An alleged anti-government extremist who plotted to bomb a building in downtown Oklahoma City has been taken into custody following a months-long domestic terrorism investigation, the Justice Department announced Monday.
Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, was arrested Saturday after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he thought was an explosive-laden van he parked near BancFirst, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma Mark A. Yancey said in a statement.
According to court documents filed Sunday, Varnell initially wanted to bomb the federal reserve in Washington, DC. Because of grievances he held against the U.S. government. He planned to mimic the bomb used in a devastating attack on the federal BancFirst building in Oklahoma City in 1995.
When an informant tipped off law enforcement to Varnell's intentions, an undercover FBI agent posed as an individual who could assist in the plot.
During a June meeting with the informant and undercover agent, Varnell acknowledged holding the "III%" ideology -- a reference to the far-right three percenter movement -- and said he wanted to start a revolution.
"Something needs to be done," he said during the recorded meeting, according to court documents.
In mid-July Varnell identified the BancFirst building in downtown Oklahoma City as his target after discussing a number of potential targets, including the federal reserve. He wanted to claim the attack on Facebook, fearing that groups like Daesh would seize the opportunity to claim it as their own, according to the criminal complaint.
Varnell allegedly acknowledged the attack would result in the deaths of innocents, saying June 26 "you got to break a couple of eggs to make an omelette".
After selecting the BancFirst building he was asked by the undercover agent if he understood people could be killed, which he acknowledged.
"There was never a concern that our community’s safety or security was at risk during this investigation," said Kathryn Peterson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oklahoma.