A leader in the Kansas Militia says the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of the federal government -- an attempt to discredit state militias.
Members of a paramilitary group called the Kansas Militia train every month with maneuvers in the woods as they prepare to resist a government that has overstepped its bounds, a leader of the group said.
But members of similar militias in other states could not have been involved in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, said Brad Glover, a rural Towanda resident described as a brigadier general of the 2nd Division of the Kansas Militia.
``No way -- that's not militia style,'' he said. ``We are not a terrorist organization, but this makes us look like one.''
In fact, Glover believes the government bombed the building in an attempt to discredit state militias.
``My personal opinion is that it's a setup,'' he said. ``There are just too many coincidences.''
He contended the government would commit such an act partly to secure passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill.
Glover said the bill's provisions could lead to a roundup of militia members, and allow federal agencies to pick up people suspected of terrorist activities and have them tried in a special court without representation.
National attention has focused on state militias since two brothers who attended meetings of the Michigan Militia -- James and Terry Nichols -- were arrested and held as material witnesses in the deadly bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.
Timothy McVeigh, 27, who has been charged in the bombing, has been linked to the Nichols brothers and is known to hold the strong anti-government views common to many in the state militia movement.
Neither the Nichols brothers or McVeigh had attended meetings of the Kansas Militia, Glover said.
The Kansas Militia is divided into northern and southern divisions. Glover heads the southern division; the northern division is led by Craig Korth, a Riley County resident.
Max Geiman, spokesman for the FBI in Kansas City, Mo., said the agency has not been worried about the Kansas Militia and has not monitored its actions.
``We don't monitor groups who are exercising their First Amendment rights,'' Geiman said.
Glover declined to say how many people belong to the Kansas group. But an expert on extremist groups says he doubts the group has more than 15 active members.
About 100 people might be on the mailing list of the Kansas Militia, but those can be very loose affiliations, said Laird Wilcox, who is the founder of The Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements. Housed at Kansas University, it is the largest collection of extremist literature in the United States.
Wilcox said Kansas also has groups operating around Spring Hill, which is just south of the Kansas City metropolitan area, and in Wichita.
But many such ``groups'' are actually two or three people with similar views, he said.
``A lot of right-wing groups around the country are basically two guys and a post office box,'' Wilcox said. ``If you've got 16 guys and eight post office boxes, you've got eight groups. That sounds very scary but it's not.''
Wilcox said most militia groups are fragmented and generally don't get along very well.
``They're always accusing each other of being police spies or prosecutors or something like this. ... They invariably remain quite small,'' Wilcox said. ``Speculation about their membership has been absurd. My own guess is that nationwide you probably have 2,000 to 3,000 hard-core members and maybe another 8,000 to 10,000 people on the mailing list.''
Dave Batswell, owner of Discount Military Surplus Collectibles in Junction City, said he had some friends in the Kansas Militia, although he is not a member.
``From what I understand, they do a little bit of training,'' he said. ``But most of the time, they just talk and screw around.
``Once every couple of months, they play around with guns. I don't think they do any paramilitary training or anything.''
Glover, a Vietnam veteran, said he got involved in the militia in September 1994 after attending a gun show and viewing a videotape of the Waco, Tex., standoff between federal agents and Branch Davidians. That standoff ended with the religious compound going up in flames.
``I watched Waco, I thought it was wrong,'' Glover said. ``They hadn't proved that these people were evil. But that video got me real interested.''
The Waco connection is one of the suspected motives in the Oklahoma bombing. McVeigh was reportedly so upset by the blast that he visited the site. And the bombing occurred on the second anniversary of the Waco tragedy.
In an interview with The Salina Journal in January, Glover said militia members train every two to four weeks by spending time in the woods and practicing military maneuvers.
The militia also convenes what it calls ``grand juries'' to hear cases in which a member believes the militia might be needed.
Examples would include another Waco, or if federal agents started doing warrantless searches against members of the militia or their families, he said.