FBI claims Utah militia man accused in bomb plot looked at mosque, federal buildings

Posted at 3:08 PM, Jun 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-29 17:10:42-04

SALT LAKE CITY — An FBI agent testified that a self-described Utah militia leader had looked at a mosque and other federal buildings as potential targets.

During a detention hearing in federal court on Wednesday, FBI agent Steve Daniels testified that William Keebler conducted reconnaissance on a mosque, federal facilities, an Army National Guard building as well as other military facilities. Federal prosecutors are arguing to keep him in jail pending trial.

“He stopped at a mosque and video’d it,” Daniels told the judge. “He stopped at the BLM, then went toward the FBI office which was considered too hard of a target.”

57-year-old William (Bill) Keebler

57-year-old William (Bill) Keebler

Keebler is facing charges accusing him in a bomb plot at a building owned by the Bureau of Land Management on the Utah-Arizona border. Keebler is the self-described leader of the “Patriot’s Defense Force.” Federal prosecutors have accused him of having ties to Cliven Bundy and Lavoy Finicum. He was arrested in Nephi after FBI agents say an inert device was detonated.

But Keebler’s defense lawyer questioned the size of the PDF, noting that it most recently had only seven members — three of which were undercover agents. Defense attorney Lynn Donaldson also pointed out to the judge that undercover FBI agents supplied Keebler with the fake bomb and showed him how to use it, but prosecutors said that was at Keebler’s request.

Donaldson argued that Keebler has no prior criminal history, but does have some anti-government viewpoints and questioned whether he really had put the other buildings under surveillance or just drove by them.

“What we have is maybe an extreme act of civil disobedience,” Donaldson told the judge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead did not rule immediately on whether to detain Keebler, but wanted to review a recording made by FBI agents. He is expected to make a decision late Thursday.

Supporters of Keebler left the federal courthouse refusing to comment to FOX 13. Security at the building had been increased in anticipation of Keebler’s court appearance.