The Montana Freemen
Week. We tell the stories behind the most captivating hostage situations and the people inside them. We'll also cover. The psychological tactics used in kidnapping situations and with the human brain does when held captive. I'm Irma Blanco. And I'm Carter Roy. You can listen to all of Park. Cast shows on spotify or anywhere. You listen to podcasts. New episodes of hostage come out every Thursday at par cast. Were grateful for you our listeners. You allow us to do what we love. Let us know how we're doing reach out on facebook and Instagram at podcast in twitter at podcast network? Today we're doing a special one part episode about the Montana Freemen an anti-government militant group who staged one of the longest armed standoffs against the FBI in US history in nineteen ninety six. We'll delve into the rise of the freemen and how they used paper terrorism to control various sections of Montana in the early nineteen nineties. Then we'll explore how undercover FBI agents. Help bring down the extremist group without shedding a single drop of blood in the late nineteen eighties and early nineteen nineties. The United States saw a rise in far-right paramilitary groups especially out west. What set them apart from past hate groups was that they weren't trying to reform the government. In fact many were very much anti-government. This trend became known as the Christian Patriot Movement. Much of what? These groups preached was typical racist and antisemitic. Rhetoric whites were superior. Everything else was subhuman. None of these views were original but what differentiated the Christian Patriot movement from say the KKK was that they married their anti-semitism with a general mistrust of the US government. They preached a unique conspiracy which alleges that Jewish bankers control various Western governments and in their view the United States was actually being run by a covert organization called the Zionist occupation. Government like any polarizing group the Christian patriots needed recruits and. They found these in the disenfranchised and disillusioned farmers across America's rural West in the late nineteen seventies President Jimmy Carter encouraged agriculture expansion leading many ranchers and farmers to take out huge loans to buy equipment and fortunately crop prices stagnated and a grain embargo against the USSR left many farmers with unsold product. These angry white farmers now owed thousands of dollars in loan payments to the IRS or the banks in the farmers is they'd been betrayed making them suspicious of the US government over all these sorts of disgruntled characters made perfect recruits giving rise to more and more Christian Patriot groups. One of these was the Montana. Freemen the Montana freemen were founded in the early nineteen nineties by a man named Leroy Schweitzer born in Nineteen thirty seven during the last years of the Great Depression. Schweitzer spent the bulk of the nineteen seventies eighties as a crop duster in Montana and Idaho when he wasn't spraying fields with pesticides. He was tuning into the anti-government and anti-tax rhetoric being spewed throughout the region exactly when Schweitzer aligned himself with these beliefs is unclear but by nineteen seventy-three Schweitzer had decided. He didn't need to pay his taxes and by the early nineteen nineties. He had accumulated four hundred thousand dollars in back taxes but he couldn't hide forever in January nineteen ninety-three the irs caught up with a fifty five year old Schweitzer seizing. His house crop duster and various properties. Schweitzer was indignant. All he wanted to do was live independently of the US government but instead he felt like their slave furious he decided it was time to take up arms and put an end to the tyranny of the United States government but for that he would help in less than a year. Schweitzer formed the nucleus for the Montana freemen by adding three other anti establishment leaders. Rodney skurdal Daniel Peterson. And Dale Jacoby. Rodney Skurdal was a marine veteran. Who worked for many years in the Wyoming oilfields by the nineteen eighties? He had identified himself as an anti-government radical and move to Roundup Montana where he became acquainted with Schweitzer in Nineteen ninety-three the irs foreclosed on skurdal's cabin in roundup but unlike Schweitzer skurdal refused to vacate. He took up arms and threatened anyone who tried to call on his property and a victim. His roundup cabin ultimately served as the freemen's first headquarters the two other freemen leaders Daniel Peterson and Dale Jacoby. Simply angry racists who also hated the government and while all four were technically equal leaders it was clearly Schweitzer who led the charge he reigned over the freemen exhibiting many of the classic traits found a cult leader according to former FBI counter intelligence agent. Joan Varo cold leaders have a grandiose idea of who they are and what they can achieve and an exaggerated sense of power and entitlement that allows them to bend the rules and break laws and on top of that they have a tendency to isolate themselves from the rest of Society Schweitzer's certainly had this brazen vision for his freeman. In fact his ultimate goal was to create a separate nation in the state of Montana. Of course this would ultimately require a violent overthrow of the government which none of the freemen had a problem with. According to their self righteous rhetoric murdering enemies was entirely justified in the skewed perspective of the freemen a revolution would be simple they and their recruits would divide into twelve battle squads like the tribes of Israel in the Old Testament an ironic choice for these otherwise anti Semitic men these squads would then overthrow the local government and hang all government officials for being part of the alleged Zionist occupation next. They would murder anyone who wasn't white. Before establishing total freeman rule in this new nation the freemen hoped to create three levels of a theocracy based government national state and county but unlike the US government local townships would be allowed. The final say in there is this would be the antithesis to national democracy where big brother government always had the last word of course we're this eventual revolution would take place what still up for debate. All the leaders knew was that it would be somewhere in Montana. The Freeman leader felt confident in their grand vision but I they needed men which they slowly gathered from the surrounding regions of Mussel Shell and Garfield counties. Schweitzer in. The freemen also began forming connections with like-minded militias from out of state. But these groups were not particularly interested. In overthrowing the government in Montana and arguably many of the freemen's own members were not too interested in far off revolution. Either they were more interested in the freemen's notorious moneymaking schemes throughout nineteen ninety. Four and nineteen ninety-five. The Montana freemen finance themselves using various forms of paper terrorism the utilize legal loopholes and early computer technology to print bogus checks and commit wire fraud. The freemen would often right fake checks for more than the cost of an item purchased. Then they would ask for the balance to be given to them in cash for example if something costs five thousand dollars a freeman would write a check for ten thousand dollars and ask for the other five thousand in cash by the time. The false check bounced the freemen member was long gone with five grand cash in their pocket. Well this scam was successful. The group didn't truly Garner attention until early nineteen ninety-five thanks to their increasing use of false liens in the most basic definition. A lean is when someone has the right to claim someone else's property such as a car house or land because the original owner supposedly owes them a large amount of money when a lean is filed on a piece of property. It makes it difficult or even impossible for the original owner to sell the property or borrow against it. Legal fees add to the excruciating process of removing a lean from one's property often prolonging the entire ordeal in early nineteen ninety-five. The freemen were issuing. False leans left and right and they especially love to do this as a way of terrorizing local government officials. If the group ran up against a nosy public agent like a district attorney or sheriff they would simply file a lien against a piece of that person's property by now the people of Mussel Shell County and Garfield County. Montana had had enough. It was time for the federal government to step in and the FBI was already on the case it's unclear exactly when the FBI began investigating the freemen's paper terrorism but by spring of Nineteen Ninety Five. They had sealed indictments against Schweitzer. And the others for fraud. The problem they were facing however was making the actual arrest. It wasn't as easy as swooping with handcuffs for all they knew. These men could be extremely violence-prone or they could be all talk by the way the last thing the FBI wanted was repeated. Ruby Ridge Waco for years Americans had complained. That federal law enforcement was overzealous when it came to using force and in August nineteen. Ninety-two a fiasco. In Ruby Ridge Idaho brought this conversation to the forefront for eleven days survivalist and fugitive randy. Weaver and his family were holed up in their house in the Idaho Mountains when.