Bundy supporter attempts to bomb Bureau of Land Management

© Bill Keebler
The head of a Utah-based militia was caught trying to use an explosive device at a Bureau of Land Management facility. He had hoped to bomb a remote location in Arizona, but the plan fell apart when he tasked an undercover FBI agent to build the weapon.

William Keebler, 57, of Stockton, Utah, is being held in the Salt Lake County jail after his arrest on Wednesday. Keebler is the commander of a militia group in Stockton known as the ‘Patriots Defense Force’, and had scouted for a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) location to attack with the late anti-federal government militia icon Robert LaVoy Finicum. He had also spent nearly two weeks participating in an armed standoff in Nevada with the Bundy family against the BLM in 2014.

Undercover FBI employees infiltrated the group and participated in training for an "anti-government action" that Keebler told them would mean "going on the offensive,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The agents participated with Keebler’s “field training exercises,” which involved firearms training and target practice. Keebler also provided instruction on military and survival techniques.

Preparation for the offensive began in October 2015, when the government says he and Finicum scouted a BLM building in Arizona. The charging documents claim that Keebler had asked one of the FBI employees to build an explosive device in March with the intent of using it on the BLM facility.

In April, militia members showed Keebler a video of a six-inch pipe bomb blowing up office furniture in southern Utah. However, the maker of that pipe bomb remains unknown. KUTV reported that Keebler had made it clear that he was not planning to attack any people and was more interesting in disabling a BLM vehicle or damaging the building.

Keebler asked the FBI agent to build two 12-inch pipe bombs to use on the Arizona BLM facility. One would be used to damage a cabin belonging to the BLM facility, while the second was to be used if law enforcement agents stopped the Patriots Defense Force members while they were going to or from the location.

Keebler and his group traveled to Arizona over Father’s Day weekend and the faux explosive was placed against the door of one of the BLM’s cabins. Using a remote detonation device, Keebler pushed the button to set off the bomb and left the area to return to Utah.

When he got back to Utah, he was arrested on Wednesday by FBI agents and faces between five and 20 years behind bars.