Propaganda and bylaws from the Patriot Defense Force, the militia organized by a Stockton man arrested for attempting to blow up a federal building in Arizona, shed light into the workings of the group and its leader.
William Keebler, 57, faces a charge of attempting to damage federal property with explosives after he was arrested by the FBI on June 22 in Nephi. The FBI claimed that Keebler attempted to detonate explosives at a cabin near the BLM facility at Mount Trumbull, a 7,880-acre wilderness area in Arizona.
In information obtained by the Tooele Transcript Bulletin and distributed to potential militia recruits, Keebler’s writing described a bleak view of the future of the country, including limited access to guns and economic instability.
“Add to this the fact that home invasions have become as commonplace as jaywalking and are increasing daily,” Keebler said. “Illegal immigrants and drugs being the top two reasons for this.”
Keebler outlined state and federal statutes that govern the unorganized militia in Utah, which is differentiated from the state’s National Guard. He credited the armed citizenry of the country as a means of protecting the U.S. Constitution in his distributed propaganda.
“Believe what you want but the 100 million armed citizens in this country, the militia, has played a significant role in keeping the government in check,” he said.
Keebler’s materials also highlight the role of the militia should the federal government collapse or transform into a dictatorship or authoritarian government.
“The first revolution was fought and won by men that were nothing more than the militia,” he said. “The organization of the United States military came much later. I predict that the second revolution may be much the same.”
Membership in the Patriot Defense Force required its members be citizens of the state and serve within a military-style command structure. Members were required to pay $25 to start and $10 monthly dues to follow.
Keebler also required the use of Hushmail, an email encryption and verification service, in correspondence between members of the militia and a designated private radio channel.
According to the bylaws of the militia, convicted felons and anyone dishonorably discharged from the military were not allowed to join. Keebler also said members were required to act in a lawful and ethical manner, including paying taxes.
The bylaws also outlined weekly meetings and monthly trainings with firearms and in survival tactics, organized by Keebler.
In addition to preparing for the collapse of the United States government, Keebler said he wanted the militia to help support the community in smaller, simpler ways. He suggested assisting law enforcement, fixing fences and changing the tires of stranded motorists as examples of the militia’s civic-minded activities.
In his distributed writings, Keebler admitted he suspected active membership in the group may never grow to a large number, with residents joining and leaving the PDF.
“Our doctrine was based on the notion that even though some people will come to a few exercises and then quit, that individual did two things while he or she was with us,” he said. “They received at least a little training that they can use to protect themselves and their loved ones and their community in a time of need.”
Keebler also identified several reasons that people may not join the militia, including accurately predicting federal agents could become members to monitor the group.
“There are those that won’t join because they are afraid that we have been infiltrated by the feds,” he said. “Who cares if we’ve been infiltrated? They probably won’t stay around long because there is nothing to report. We don’t do anything illegal, we don’t discuss anything illegal and we don’t have illegal weapons.”
The FBI infiltrated the PDF for about a year, during which its undercover operatives contacted Keebler both face-to-face and by cell phone.
The charging documents from the FBI said Keebler identified BLM facilities in the “middle of nowhere” as the targets for a potential attack back in March. Keebler then reached out to one of the undercover FBI agents about creating an explosive device capable of disabling a BLM vehicle or damaging a building, though he was clear he didn’t want to hurt any people.
On April 8, the undercover FBI agent tasked with creating explosives for the militia showed Keebler a video of a 6-inch pipe bomb blowing up abandoned office furniture in the mountains of southern Utah. Keebler asked if the agent could create more explosives and outlined his target — the BLM facility at Mount Trumbull.
During a May 14 training session, Keebler announced the target of the bombing and requested the FBI operative construct two bombs twice the size of the one shown in the video. One bomb was equipped with remote detonation and the other was put on a time fuse.
An inert bomb created by the FBI agent was placed at the door of a BLM cabin on June 21 and Keebler was given the detonator. He pressed the button several times and the militia returned to Utah.
Keebler was arrested the following day and charged with attempting to damage federal property with explosives. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of five years.
In the written pledge for members of the militia, Keebler outlined the behavior of a member who is detained.
“If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means possible,” he said. “I will make every effort to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.”
Keebler is expected back in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead.