The case against Kevin Patterson and Charles Kiles, who pleadsed not guilty to firearms charges Monday, was built upon over a year of surveillance. It gives an unusual look inside a band of militia members getting ready for the new millennium.
The suspects discussed plans to blow up the California Aqueduct that much of the state depends on for water. Other targets were given code names: the "Twin Sisters," two huge propane tanks near Sacramento, and "the Movie Theater," a major television transmission tower.
Retired FBI agent Rick Smith says that in tracking these fringe groups, the challenge is separating those who just talk from those who are actually intending to cause year-end terrorism.
"You have to have the theory," Smith says. "You have to be somewhat mentally imbalanced, and then have the wherewithal to carry through with one of these things. So those ingredients have to all come together on that particular date for it to be something to worry about."
The FBI believes Kevin Patterson could have pulled it all together. In a Texas militia, he was known as a "demolitions expert."
A 60-page FBI affidavit filed in the case shows suspected militia members talking in code. "Baking cookies" is "building explosives," ammunition is called "food." The affidavit also reveals some of the ways the FBI is trying to keep track of fringe groups as the Year 2000 approaches.
To watch Kevin Patterson, the FBI used wiretaps and listening devices. They brought in undercover agents. A paid informant was found inside the militia group. Agents put an electronic tracking unit on a car he rented.
Patterson was prepared for Y2K with a book called The Poor Man's James Bond, a handbook for terrorism. Court documents show he had a four month supply of food and water and plans to hideout in the woods.
Now, prosecutors say, he'll spend New Years Eve in jail.