Three Virginia men indicted for planning attacks on synagogues and black churches

A grand jury indicted three Virginia men who tried to buy an automatic weapon, explosives and a pistol with a silencer from three undercover FBI agents posing as gun dealers. 

(Henrico County Sheriff's Department via AP)
These undated photos provided by the Henrico County, Va., Sheriff's Department show Ronald B. Chaney III, left, Robert C. Doyle, center, and Charles D. Halderman. Chaney III and Doyle, who are facing weapons charges after an FBI investigation into a plot to attack synagogues and black churches, were denied bond by a judge on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. Halderman, who was charged with conspiring to rob a jeweler to raise money to support the alleged plot, has a preliminary hearing set for Friday.

A federal grand jury has indicted three Virginia men accused of plotting to shoot up or bomb synagogues and black churches.

The Richmond-area men were originally charged last month. A federal magistrate found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury, which returned a three-count indictment Tuesday.

Court records show that Robert C. Doyle, 34; Ronald Beasley Chaney II, 33; and Charles D. Halderman Jr., 30, are charged with a robbery conspiracy. The government claims the men conspired to rob an unnamed silver and coin dealer and use the money to stockpile weapons, buy land and train for a race war.

CNN reported last month that the FBI received information in September that Doyle was going to hold a meeting at his Chesterfield County home with other people "to discuss acting out in furtherance of their extremist beliefs by shooting or bombing the occupants of black churches and Jewish synagogues, conducting acts of violence against persons of the Jewish faith and doing harm to a gun store owner in the state of Oklahoma," court papers said.

Doyle and Chaney also are charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of unregistered guns. They previously had faced only gun possession and robbery conspiracy charges.

The men — all of whom have extensive criminal backgrounds, according to the FBI and court records— are being held in jail without bond.

According to an FBI agent's affidavit filed when the men were first charged, Doyle and Chaney subscribe to "a white supremacy extremist version of the Asatru faith," a sect that emphasizes Norse gods and traditions. The affidavit does not link Halderman to Asatru, but U.S. Magistrate Roderick Young mentioned that defendant's ties to a white supremacist group in a hearing last month.

Vice reports that the strain of Asatru practiced among some white supremacists in the US follows the Norse god Odin. 

"[Odinists] claim they are opposed to racism, but they define racism very differently from the average person," says Joshua Rood, an expert on Old Norse Religion at the University of Iceland.. "They say, 'We're not racist. We just believe in keeping ethnicity separate.' Which... it's racist."

So, while the European followers of Asatru worship Thor without the emphasis on racial or ethnic heritage, the Asatrus in America look more like Odinists, who emphasize racial heritage.

Agent James R. Rudisill's affidavit says Doyle and Chaney tried to buy an automatic weapon, explosives and a pistol with a silencer from three undercover agents posing as gun dealers. The FBI set up the sting after an informant told them about the defendants' plans. The informant agreed to secretly record conversations with the men, Rudisill testified last month.

Rudisill said an undercover agent also posed as the silver and coin dealer. He testified that Doyle said in recorded conversations that the plan was to use a handgun with a silencer to shoot the dealer in the face, and he talked about how he would dispose of the body.

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