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Illinois man charged in Oklahoma plot to bomb churches

October 08, 2012|By Michael Muskal

Gregory Arthur Weiler II told his friends and relatives that he had had issues for years with religion. On Monday, Weiler was being held without bail in Oklahoma on terrorism charges stemming from what authorities say was a plot to blow up dozens of churches with Molotov cocktails.

Weiler, of Elk Grove Village, Ill., has been charged under Oklahoma’s tough anti-terrorism laws passed after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building that killed 168 people. The attack was by a group of Americans who said they acted out of hate for the federal government and its actions at Waco, Texas, where 76 men, women and children died while federal agents tried to execute a warrant on the Branch Davidian cult.

It is not clear why Weiler traveled to Miami, Okla., where he was arrested, Police Chief George Haralson told the Chicago Tribune. “I couldn’t even begin to guess,” he said.

According to court documents quoted by the newspaper, Weiler was arrested after police found bomb-making equipment in a garbage can at a motel. Entering Weiler’s motel room, police found dozens of empty beer bottles made into Molotov cocktails, along with a torn-up page that had handwritten instructions for making the bombs. The document had a hand-drawn map of 48 local churches, and plans to make more bombs, according to the affidavit.

“To be able to firebomb 48 churches in a week, that's an awful lot of effort,” Haralson said. “But we're confident that he was acting alone.”

Officials said Weiler planned to videotape the explosions. A journal discovered in his motel room laid out plans to destroy churches across the U.S. “Self-Promote for the next 4 years while beginning list of goals written in Oklahoma having to do with destroying and removing church buildings from U.S., a tiny bit at a time -- setting foundation for the years to follow,” one journal entry says.

Several weeks ago, family members began seeing odd comments posted by Weiler on his Facebook page, which was the only way they kept in touch with him, the Tribune reported.

A Sept. 25 posting -- apparently written from his motel room -- referred to his childhood and focused on the Catholic Church, whose leaders he accused of “hypocrisy, murder and deceit.” He ended with: “I have not opened a bible in a while, and I haven’t stepped foot into a church building in quite some time -- and though I may be very lonely right now, I am hoping that someone, and maybe someday in the future, someone will take notice.”

His aunt, Joanne Meyers, said she believed the latest incident was another example of how mental illness has devastated their family. She and her husband, Chris, took in Weiler after his mother committed suicide in 2002 after years of depression and alcoholism, she said. Weiler's father suffered from alcohol and drug addiction before he killed himself in 2005. A sister is hospitalized for mental illness after several suicide attempts.

“We just want people to understand how mental illness such as Greg's affects our whole family,” Meyers said.

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