"They were talking about that the first thing they had to do was go out and get the explosives," says FBI special agent Frank Gallagher.
In California, the FBI says it has thwarted plans to blow up propane storage tanks, a TV transmission tower, perhaps even the massive aqueduct that carries water from one end of the state to the other. These were potential targets, prosecutors say, of two anti-government militia members arrested last week.
"We are organized and we are going to make sure this community stays safe," says assistant U.S. attorney Jodi Rafkin,
The arrests come as local police departments across the country are being warned about the threat of millennium terrorism.
The warning comes from the FBI in a report with a sobering title: Project Megiddo, named after a place in Israel also known as Armageddon. The report says "armed with the urgency of the millennium," extremists may be moved to violence.
Margaret Singer, an expert in extremist groups who contributed to the report, says, "The likelihood is that it's just going to be small bands of weird guys that want to make a mark."
The Stars and Stripes fly outside the home of Donald Beauregard, the militia member arrested in Florida. He insisted in an interview four years ago that the militias are patriotic. "Actually we're pro-government," he said, "because it's the people who are the government."
Court documents suggest those arrested in California -- Kevin Patterson and Charles Kiles -- believed the millennium could bring a declaration of martial law in the United States.
"The Air National Guard ... will corral, handle and transport detainees" one militia contact told Patterson, and the "Army is going to confiscate guns ... door to door."
The FBI is worried that some extremists are preparing to take advantage of any disruption caused by the Y2K computer bug .
"They view it as an opportunity for their adherents to seize control of various government functions," says Jim Maddock, FBI special agent in charge, Sacramento.
In Project Megiddo, the FBI says it has no evidence of any major conspiracy among militias, but it worries there may be some on the fringes who see the millenium as the time for Armageddon.