Among the many enraged by Ruby Ridge was McVeigh, who was living in his hometown near Buffalo at the time. He heard about the siege from news media and began seeking more information from Patriot shortwave radio broadcasts. Years later, McVeigh's defense attorney remembered his client saying Ruby Ridge was "the defining moment in his life that impelled him to act against the government."
PATCON's interests would soon overlap with McVeigh more directly.
At the beginning of 1993, McVeigh left the normal workaday world behind and hit the road, traveling the country and selling military fatigues and copies of The Turner Diaries at a series of gun shows. His first stop was in Florida, near Fort Lauderdale, where his sister and her family lived.
At a gun show there, where he was selling his merchandise, McVeigh met a colorful character named Roger Moore. A self-made millionaire, Moore had retired young and spent his free time traveling and selling ammunition at gun shows under his own name and a number of aliases -- Bob Miller, Col. Bob Anderson, "Bob from Arkansas," and simply "Arkansas Bob."
Under his alias of Bob Miller, Moore had also been involved for years with Posey's CMA, according to two former members of the group and other supporting evidence. Moore could not be reached for comment.
After a second meeting between the two men in Florida, Moore invited McVeigh to visit his Arkansas ranch. McVeigh hit the road again, driving west. A few days before he set out, the ATF botched an effort to raid the compound of the Branch Davidians, a bizarre cult based in Waco, Texas. After a massive gunfight, resulting in deaths on both sides, a standoff ensued and the FBI was brought in to contain the scene.
The Branch Davidians, known locally as gun traders, had at least casual connections to the groups targeted by PATCON. They used one of the same suppliers as the TLI, and an associate of Posey's had sold them ammunition, according to FBI documents.
As the siege unfolded, many Patriots saw the assault as just the kind of nightmare government crackdown on gun owners they had been predicting.
CMA was particularly hard hit by the events at Waco. Members began discussing whether to intervene on behalf the Branch Davidians. Posey and other CMA members also discussed revenge, according to FBI records, proposing to bomb government buildings and to kill five FBI and ATF agents for every Branch Davidian who died at Waco, according to FBI records.
Investigators forwarded threat reports involving CMA and John Grady's organization to FBI headquarters and to the agents on the scene at Waco. The precise threats were redacted from documents released under FOIA. Agents involved in the siege said they did not recall the leads.
The siege dragged on for weeks, and members of various Patriot groups began camping outside the FBI's perimeter in protest. On March 18, Beam -- one of PATCON's primary targets -- was arrested after a vocal outburst at the FBI's daily press briefing. Some of Beam's associates, also targeted by PATCON, inserted themselves into negotiations between the FBI and the sect.
Into this volatile mix walked McVeigh, arriving in Waco shortly before Beam's arrest and camping for a couple of days. After leaving Waco in the second half of March, McVeigh went to Tulsa and attended another gun show with Moore, the traveling ammunition salesman. Waco dominated their conversation; in court testimony later, Moore laconically described McVeigh's attitude at the time as "extremely upset."
McVeigh met two other men in Tulsa. One was Andreas Strassmeir, a German citizen who had moved to the United States some years earlier. In Texas, Strassmeir had become close to Beam and other TLI members before moving to Elohim City, a rural Oklahoma community associated with the white supremacist Christian Identity movement. McVeigh also met Dennis Mahon, a friend of Strassmeir and frequent visitor to Elohim City.
After Tulsa, McVeigh visited Moore and Anderson for a few days in Arkansas, and then went to visit another old Army buddy, Terry Nichols, at his home in Michigan. On April 19, McVeigh and Nichols watched in horror as TV news showed an unfolding disaster in Waco as the FBI stormed the compound and a fire broke out, resulting in the death of more than 70 Branch Davidians including children. The sight further hardened McVeigh's resolve to act against the government. He would carry out his bombing exactly two years later.
In September 1993, McVeigh and Moore met again at a Las Vegas convention hosted by Soldier of Fortune magazine. The convention was an annual recruiting stop for CMA, according to multiple sources. The two men got into a shouting match over Patriot politics, drawing the attention of security and bystanders.