A 23-year-old has been arrested and charged with attempting to blow up a bank in Oklahoma City in the US with a massive car bomb, the FBI says. Jerry Drake Varnell told a (paid) informant of the FBI that he wanted to use a vehicle bomb similar to the one that destroyed the federal building there in 1995. Varnell hoped his actions would “cripple the government” and cause a “revolution.”
According to the BBC, Varnell had been plotting the attack for months, but was thwarted by a long-running undercover investigation led by an FBI joint terrorism task force. The criminal complaint alleges that shortly after midnight last Saturday he attempted to set off a (fake) bomb. Speaking to the informant, he cited the film Fight Club and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as inspiration.
The FBI says that Varnell drove a stolen cargo van loaded with a massive 1,000 lbs (453 kg) bomb made of diesel and ammonia to BancFirst building in downtown Oklahoma City. He parked the van in an alley beside the bank and then attempted to dial a number with a mobile phone, thinking that would trigger the explosion, according to the FBI. However, the FBI had made the ignition device inert, preventing the bomb from igniting.
Angry with banks
The bombing case appeared to have started in December, when the confidential informant told the FBI that Varnell wanted to bomb the Washington building that houses the offices of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Varnell appeared to be especially angry with the banking and financial data system, according to The New York Times. The plan later changed to the Oklahoma BancFirst.
Varnell lived with his mother and had built a bunker next to their home, which he was filling with supplies, in case a major catastrophe or war broke out. He is now charged with attempting to use explosives to destroy a building and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing on a federal building in Oklahoma City left 168 people dead. The attack is considered the deadliest homegrown domestic terror attack in US history.