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FBI interview cites probable link between Guardsman, militia suspect

MINNEAPOLIS — On the day he was arrested last May, Montevideo, Minn., militia group member Buford “Bucky” Rogers told an FBI agent that he knew a man named Keith who was involved in intelligence work for the National Guard and was also involved in militia activity, according to an FBI interview transcript made public Friday.

There is “a high probability” that the “Keith” that Rogers named is Keith Novak of Maplewood, Minn., the Guardsman and member of a militia organization who was arrested last week for stealing the names and Social Security numbers of Army members as part of an identity theft scheme, according to a source who has knowledge of both cases.

The source said Novak had his security clearance removed last summer when he was under investigation.

The FBI has made no statement that the two men are linked. Both men, however, are alleged by the FBI to have spoken of bombing government facilities, although neither been charged for a such a crime.

Rogers, a member of a small group called the Black Snake Militia, planned an attack on the police station and National Guard facility and the bombing of a radio tower, all in Montevideo, the FBI alleged at the time of his arrest. He was indicted for possessing illegal explosives and a firearm.

An FBI agent testified Monday that Novak belonged to the 44th Spatha Libertas or “Sword of Freedom” militia and had discussed bombing a National Security Agency facility in Utah, although he has not been charged with that. He was described in court documents as a “Human Intelligence Collector” for the Minnesota Army National Guard and an “intelligence analyst” when he was a member of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

Novak’s case has been forwarded to a federal grand jury for possible indictment.

Asked whether the “Keith” that Rogers spoke about to the FBI was Novak, Nicole Engisch, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. attorney’s office in Minneapolis, which is prosecuting both cases, declined to comment.

A redacted portion of the transcript of Rogers’ interview was made public by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeanne Graham as a result of a motion filed by Star Tribune attorney John Borger.

A transcript for the first 40 minutes was not released because FBI Agent Shane Ball had not yet read Rogers his rights, Graham ruled. But the remaining portion, which lasted about three hours, was made available. Because of the redactions, it is not clear whether Rogers ever mentioned Keith’s last name.

Rogers refers to other alleged militia members in the interview, including a man named Tim from Texas who stayed with the Rogers family and left after a disagreement. Although it is not spelled out, the FBI has previously referred to an unidentified man who stayed with the family, then fled to Texas and told the FBI that Rogers was planning a terrorist attack. That prompted the FBI to arrest Rogers.

If Tim is the informant, Rogers appeared to have a completely different take on the disagreement.

“He likes bombs and the reason we basically just kicked him out of the group is because he was violent and we don’t want that kind of [expletive],” Rogers says of Tim. “Everything about law enforcement and government he does not like. And I would consider him dangerous, yes.”

Despite the explosive devices the FBI found, Rogers told Agent Ball that he was opposed to violence, including the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building and the Boston Marathon bombing this year.

“Don’t tell anybody this, but I always wanted to be an FBI agent,” Rogers told Ball.

If Rogers was questioned about a terror plot, it is not included in the portions of the transcript released Friday.

There are also references to a “very violent” person connected with a Russian militia group Rogers said is connected to Los Zetas, a violent criminal syndicate in Mexico.

He also refers to a man named Kyle in a different militia group, “who is going to college” so he can work in an unnamed sheriff’s department.” In the transcript, Rogers says of that militia group, “I think it’s called “44(asterisks) don’t ask me how to spell it.” It is unclear whether the asterisks are a redaction.

The interview has a friendly, conversational tone as opposed to an interrogation.

In it, Ball asked about others Rogers interacted with, and the name “Keith” came up.

“And what’s Keith’s deal?” Ball asked.

“Keith, he’s in the National Guard. All-around nice guy. Paid for gas last time we went up to the cities,” Rogers said.

“When was that?” Ball asked.

“Um, uh three months ago …” Rogers replied.

The interview veered elsewhere, then returned to the Guardsman.

“Keith, he’s Keith,” Rogers said. “He’s uh, I don’t know, he’s a real smart guy and he is not a violent person, (inaudible) go to rally's, the Monsanto and stuff like that. He’s been to quite a few of those protests.” It is possible Rogers was referring to protests against the Monsanto company’s role in producing genetically modified crops.

Asked whether Keith smuggled weapons, Rogers replied, that “he ain’t that kind of guy,” Rogers said. “He’s an intel officer (inaudible) have access to anyways, so.”

Asked where Keith’s loyalty lay between the Guard, Army and militia, Rogers responded: “It would be more toward the militia (inaudible) yeah. He just like most militia, you know he believes there’s a darker side to it, certain parts of the government that, you know, under wraps type of thing.”

Asked whether Keith would use his authority “as an intel guy in the Army to assist the guard guy or assist the militia guy” Rogers responded, “He’s not like that, no. He just helps people out …”

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