Three Georgia men were arrested for attempting to buy pipe bombs and thermite in a plot to take down power grids and water treatment plants.
Agents say the sophisticated terror plot was meant to incite other militias to fight the government as well.
If the men hadn’t attempted to buy explosives from an undercover FBI agent, they probably would have been successful, agents testified at a court hearing Friday.
Brian Edward Cannon, 36, and Cory Robert Williamson, 28, appeared in court Friday and were denied bond. The third man, Terry Eugene Peace, 45, will make his first court appearance Monday.
An FBI source said Cannon planned to create mass hysteria that would push the government to declare martial law, which would then encourage other militias to join the fight.
"Cannon claimed too many militias were in a defensive mode and in order to get them out of the defensive posture, actions would have to take place to force martial law to be declared," the agent's statement said.
They are accused of chatting online about carrying out an act of terrorism against the government in February. These conversations were monitored by the FBI.
U.S. Attorney Sally Yates says the case is a reminder that terrorism can be homegrown.
"You can see that the plans that they had are really scary," Yates said. "There's no indication that they would not have been successful, and that's not the kind of thing where we can wait and see."