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The arrest of an ex-Marine last week on child-rape and federal weapons charges has sparked a low-grade civil war within the "patriot" movement, with militia members rallying behind the accused while more mainstream groups struggle to distance themselves.
On Thursday, Charles Dyer, 29, was formally charged with child sexual abuse for alleged acts against a 7-year-old girl at his home in Marlow, Oklahoma. Searching Dyer's home, Stephens County Sheriff's deputies found a Colt M-203 grenade launcher, since identified as one that had been stolen from a California military base in 2006. Dyer now stands charged with illegal possession of a destructive device.
Dyer was already a notorious figure. As an active-duty sergeant in the Marine Corps, he posted incendiary videos on YouTube under the handle July4Patriot. Clad in a skull mask, he warned of grave threats to the republic and called for armed resistance against the American government. In one clip, referring to an April 2009 Department of Homeland Security report (pdf) on domestic extremism, Dyer exclaimed, "With DHS blatantly calling patriots, veterans, and constitutionalists a threat, all that I have to say is you’'re damn right we're a threat. We're a threat to anyone that endangers our rights and the Constitution of this republic." He invited viewers to join him at his makeshift training area—"I'm sure the DHS will call it a terrorist training camp."