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John S. Torell
September 15, 2003

On October 8, 1997 the Damascus branch of Key Bank of Oregon was robbed. The robbers fled with $6,000.00 in cash. One of the robbers, later identified as Forrest E. Bateman Jr., used a gun in the robbery, when he fired one shot into the ceiling of the bank to warn the bank clerks that he was willing to use the gun if they did not comply with his demands. Bateman was dressed in army battle fatigues. Ten minutes prior to the robbery, a bomb exploded at the Fantasy Adult Video Store, located six miles west of the bank. No one was injured in the explosion but police investigators believe that the bomb was set off as a diversionary tactic.

Bateman and another man (which I will not identify in order to protect his family, but will give him the fictitious name Roger), had sometime earlier been recruited by Fritz Springmeier 1, and both of them lived on a remote property on and off for eight years which was owned by Rogerís family. Fritz would come often and spend time with the men. According to a family member (which I have spoken to on several occasions), they were preparing for some kind of action against government authorities. Roger, Bateman and Springmeier grew marijuana on the family property (which was not known to the family), and it was sold as a source of income to fund their activities. The family eventually became very afraid of Fritz and forbade him to come back on the property.

Some time after the robbery Roger was arrested and charged with having an illegal shot gun, with a barrel that was not in compliance with the law and also for being part of the marijuana growing. He was promised a lighter sentence if he would testify against Bateman and Springmeier, but the deal was later reneged on by the assistant U.S. Attorney, Frank Noonan. Roger was sentenced to a prison term of 47 months to be served out in federal prison, and was then shipped off to a federal prison in California.

In January 2002 Bateman and Springmeier were indicted by a grand jury on charges of armed bank robbery, the use of a firearm in a violent crime and possession of a destructive device in a violent crime; but they did not go to trial until January 2003.

At this time Roger was brought back to Oregon from the federal prison in California and held in a local county jail. According to family members of Roger, he was very scared and feared for his life and wanted to be returned as soon as possible to the federal prison in California where he felt safer.

Bateman was facing up to 20 years in federal prison when he accepted a plea bargain on January 27, 2003 in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon and plead guilty to the charge of bank robbery. When Batemen was sentenced on April 3, 2003, he was sentenced to 10 to 12 years.

On February 12, 2003 Springmeier was convicted in a jury trial on two counts, while a third was thrown out. Count one charged defendant with armed bank robbery and count two charged defendant with using and carrying a firearm during the armed robbery. Count three which charged defendant with using and carrying a destructive device during a bank robbery, did not go to the jury because the court ruled that the evidence did not support that charge.

The legal counsel for Springmeier filed a motion to have the case thrown out in the Federal District Court of Oregon. This motion was denied by the federal district judge James A. Redden on March 21, 2003. Due to legal maneuvering by Springmeier, the sentencing date was changed several times. Currently Springmeierís sentencing is scheduled for November 13, 2003.

After having been kept in Oregon for some seven months, first in a county jail and later at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, Roger was shipped back to California to serve out his prison sentence. Because Bateman confessed to the robbery and agreed to testify against Springmeier, Roger was never used as a witness during Springmeierís trial.

Both Springmeier and Bateman are currently incarcerated at the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon. Springmeier is held at the maximum security facility. According to an anonymous source in Oregon, Fritz was involved in a fight in the prison and spent some time in solitary confinement.

Investigator reporter John Stevens from the Portland area in Oregon, was able to obtain copies of the search warrants used by the police to search Springmeier and Batemanís residences in Multnomah and Clackamas Counties. According to Stevens here are some of the items found and confiscated: Machine guns, a modified 20 mm cannon, a 37 mm grenade launcher, hand grenades, part for a .50 caliber machine gun, tri-pod mounted .30 caliber semi-automatic belt fed copy of a Browning 1919 machine gun, dynamite, binary explosives, chemicals to make C-4 explosives, numerous hand guns, rifles, and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

When I first was informed that Fritz was under police investigation, I started to search the Portland newspaper, The Oregonian. I was able to find at least two newspaper articles, stating the arrest of Fritz Springmeier and a write up on the court proceedings from January 27, published in the Oregonian on January 29, 2003. The staff writer was Stephen Beaven. Within a few weeks, every article concerning Springmeier vanished from the Oregonian website, and when I tried to find them, the answer came up that there are no articles existing on Springmeier. Next I tried to call the newspaper, and ask for photocopies, willing to pay for them. It was impossible to find anyone working in the archives willing to do the work.

During the first court proceedings, Steven Beaven attended representing The Oregonian. As the different legal maneuvers took place in the Federal District Court, the only reporter present for all the hearings was the private investigative reporter John Stevens 3. When I spoke to him, he was at a total loss as to why the media in Portland had made the decision not to inform the public what was happening or to attend the court hearings; after all, this was an armed robbery and a very well known person in the community was accused of having done it.

The only place my researcher in Portland could find a copy of the denial from Judge James A. Redden, was in the law library of the Oregon State University.

As I looked further into the case, I was told there is a possibility that the Federal Government is trying to use Springmeier in the upcoming trials of the alleged abortion bomber Eric Rudolph as a witness against him (Rudolph eluded capture for some five years). The common practice of the federal government is to be able to have a hostile witness testify against a defendant, and to offer a reduced sentence for the witness. While negotiations are going on, there is usually a news media blackout. Rudolph and Springmeier are both suspected to be members of the Army of God (AOG).

According to the items listed in the search warrants obtained by John Stevens, the following material was found in Batemanís residence: Signs, banners, books, literature, computer records and handwritten material that identified Bateman as a member of the "Army of God." There were books describing how to make explosives, create poisonous gases, culture diseases, as well as books on sniper training and freedom fighting. There was also a copy of the Army of God operations manual.

Furthermore, ceramic body armor with an Army of God (AOG) patch on the left shoulder was found along with "Bull Run Militia" emblems, extensive military gear, fake identification, plans and diagrams of operational plans which included the building of an underground command center, an escape tunnel and a bunker in the woods.

Meanwhile supporters of Springmeier are claiming that Fritz was "framed" by the Federal Government and that he is innocent. There are some websiteís claiming his innocence and some of them are trying to raise money so that Fritz can hire attorneys and continue the appeal process.

After talking with a number of people who have known Fritz for some years, and particularly to the family of Roger, I am convinced that Fritz participated and led the bank robbery, that he is a member of the Army of God, and that this group is armed and dangerous to anyone opposing them. Hiding behind the cloak of being Christians, they are bringing shame to the body of Christ.

Pastor Jeff Weakley of Godís Remnant Church (GRC) is a part of the Identity Movement 4, which is also connected with the Christian Patriot Association (CPA). Weakley in an interview with John Stevens in 1997 told how the Army of God (AOG) is set up, and he specifically warned that the members are very dangerous, well armed, committed and invisible. Weakley further revealed that Springmeier may be the leader and brain behind Army of God cells and their activities. In a private letter from Springmeier to John Stevens in 1997, Springmeier outlined his activities and he ended the letter, saying "PLEASE DESTROY THIS LETTER AFTER YOU READ IT, OUR EXISTENCE IS UNKNOWN."

For a background study on Fritz Springmeier, see our article on Fritz Springmeier - Another Human Tragedy.

1.  Due to death threats and promises of harm, we cannot name some of our sources.

2.  During the time period of March thru June 2003 there were no articles on Fritz Springmeier available from The Oregonian newspaper.

3.  For a deeper study on the Identity Movement, see The Dove, Spring/Summer 1996, pages 20-36 (available for $2.00 postage paid); see our article on the Identity Movement Cult.

4.  John Stevens is an independent investigative reporter who has written some articles used by the Oregon Spotlight. For a complete report of Stevensí investigation of the Springmeier case, you may contact him at ins@qcsn.com, call him at (503) 256-1656, or visit the Oregonian Spotlight website. https://oregonspotlight.org/news.htm

November 13, 2003
Bank robbers might have been home grown terrorists

PORTLAND - A list of possible terror targets compiled by an ultra-right wing group, including government buildings and other facilities were made public Thursday as a federal judge sentenced a Portland area man for his part in a 1997 bank robbery.

After the sentencing of Fritz Springmeier, a self-described religious author, Clackamas County Sheriff deputies revealed a loose-leaf binder seized in 2001 as a part of the case.

Springmeier, a white separatist known for his anti-government writings will serve 9 years in federal prison. Federal Judge James Redden characterized the robbery that included the detonation of a pipe bomb as a diversion as "vicious."

Among the locations handwritten in the binder entitled "Army of God, Yahweh's Warriors, were the federal building, FBI offices, and KATU studios in Portland.

Floor plans to the FBI offices were also a part of the evidence seized in a raid on property near Corbett on February 9, 2001.

In the raid, federal agents also seized a cache of military-style assault weapons, including an AK-47, hand grenades, C-4 explosives, and bomb-making ingredients that included ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

"We take it (the target lists) very seriously," says Steve Thoroughman, a detective with Clackamas County, and the lead investigator of the U.S. government's case against Springmeier and his accomplice Forrest Bateman, who was convicted and sentenced earlier this year in connection with the bank robbery.

Thoroughman says agents of the FBI and ATF have reviewed the hand-written notes and have followed up on those leads.

"They had the means to do almost anything they wanted to," said Thoroughman. They had fully automatic AK-47's, they had night vision, they had ceramic body armor, anything they needed to carry out an assault."

Federal prosecutors say the handwritten notes were a clue to the workings of the group, but without additional overt acts they did not provide enough evidence to prove a conspiracy.

"We had to have more to make that kind of a case," said Frank Noonan, the U.S. attorney who prosecuted Springmeier.

Springmeier's wife Patricia says her husband first met Bateman at a bible study in 1995.

"He knew the bible forward and backward, and that's why they first got together," says Patricia Springmeier.

Patricia also says her husband was framed by the federal government for his writings that she believes exposed corruption at high levels of the government.

Just before sentencing Springmeier told the judge that the government had destroyed his life. As he had during his trial, Springmeier proclaimed his innocence and referred the sentence as a "divine blessing."

Martin Abernathy --- Providence, RI --- 11/15/03


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