Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Suspect Plotted Abortion War, FBI Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Suspect Plotted Abortion War, FBI Says

Article excerpt

When Robert Cook was questioned about threats he made outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Fla., he appeared to be one more extremist in a city that already had seen two abortion doctors murdered.

Cook's reputed warnings to neighboring store owners around the clinic - "You'd better get bulletproof glass" and "Soon it's going to look like the Fourth of July around here" - had attracted the attention of police officers.

But a background check led the FBI to suspect that Cook might be something more than an anti-abortion extremist - rather a relatively sophisticated criminal plotting an assault on abortion providers.

Months of undercover surveillance of Cook's activities convinced the FBI that the 33-year-old man was planning to use money allegedly obtained from a previously unsolved $260,000 robbery of an armored car in Kenosha, Wis., to finance what he told others would be a war against abortion doctors and clinics.

A former employee of the armored car company, Cook allegedly shifted the money to an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands, amassed an arsenal of weapons and ammunition kept in an Illinois storage locker and apparently tried unsuccessfully to recruit others to join him in targeting abortion providers.

The FBI arrested Cook on Aug. 16 for the armored car robbery in 1994 after he made a specific threat to begin his anti-abortion attacks on Aug. 22. U.S. Attorney Thomas Schneider, who is handling the case in Milwaukee, said he believes Cook's arrest has averted the potential for more bloodshed in America's abortion wars. Five people have been killed since 1993.

"Good police work is able to take a terrible crime and solve it," Schneider said. "Great police work is able to prevent a crime and a terrible tragedy."

But Cook's arrest has sent new tremors along the front lines of the abortion battle, where anti-abortion leaders are under increasing pressure from federal authorities investigating whether there is a conspiracy behind the recent wave of anti-abortion violence. …

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