Via Ace. Usually when a fledgling terror cell is broken up, there’s something in the details you can cling to if you want to pretend that things weren’t as dangerous as they seemed. Either the FBI caught the plotters early, maybe even before they’d bought weapons, or the cell had little money with which to operate or the plotters’ commitment to following through seemed uncertain, half real and half fantasy.

None of that applies here. If the allegations are true, you’ve got a group with military training, ample financial means, and enough drive to see this through that they’ve already killed two, and possibly as many as four, people. The ringleader sounds like a genuine psychopath. Oh — and apparently, the cops don’t know how many members are still out there.

Ace wants the death penalty for them, as do I. A waking nightmare:

Prosecutors in rural Long County, near the sprawling Army post Fort Stewart, said the militia group of active and former U.S. military members spent at least $87,000 buying guns and bomb components. They allege the group was serious enough to kill two people — former soldier Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York — by shooting them in the woods last December in order to keep its plans secret…

Pauley said Aguigui funded the militia using $500,000 in insurance and benefit payments from the death of his pregnant wife a year ago. Aguigui was not charged in his wife’s death, but Pauley told the judge her death was “highly suspicious.”

In a videotaped interview with military investigators, Pauley said, Aguigui called himself “the nicest cold-blooded murderer you will ever meet.” He used the Army to recruit militia members, who wore distinctive tattoos that resemble an anarchy symbol, she said. Prosecutors say they have no idea how many members belong to the group…

The prosecutor said the militia group had big plans. It plotted to take over Fort Stewart by seizing its ammunition control point and talked of bombing the Forsyth Park fountain in nearby Savannah, she said. In Washington state, she added, the group plotted to bomb a dam and poison the state’s apple crop. Ultimately, prosecutors said, the militia’s goal was to overthrow the government and assassinate the president.

One strange, fascinating detail to this horror show: Aguigui, who allegedly founded and led the militia and supposedly ordered the killings of Roark and his girlfriend, is a 19-year-old private. One of his henchmen is a 25-year-old sergeant. I don’t pretend to understand the psychological dynamics of terror cells but it strikes me as unusual that a soldier of low rank would be able to convince a superior to not only join his gang but to obey his orders, even to the point of murder. The bit in the excerpt about Aguigui using the Army to recruit members is ominous too. Did he join the Army in earnest and then come up with the idea for the militia or did he join the Army in the first place only so that he could recruit people for his true passion? If the latter, that’s a remarkable degree of cunning in service to a remarkably evil end for someone so young. And the fact that he was able to pull it off makes it only that much more amazing. What exactly are we dealing with here?

Exit question: Did I misunderstand something in the story or are the feds basically not involved? It sounds like it’s all being handled by Georgia authorities, with information being shared with the DOJ. Did the FBI miss this plot somehow? If so, it’s an awfully big one to miss.