James Dryden Jr (left) and Michael Mancil. Photo courtesy Coffee County Sheriff's Office

James Dryden Jr (left) and Michael Mancil. Photo courtesy Coffee County Sheriff’s Office


Last updated at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2


ANCHORAGE — An Alaska research facility was the target of an alleged terror plot by two Georgia men, who investigators say were influenced by conspiracy theories.


The Coffee County Sheriff’s office arrested 30-year-old Michael Mancil and 22-year-old James Dryden Jr. Thursday, WALB News 10 reports. Investigators stated the men claimed they were planning to attack the High Frequency Active Aural Research Facility (HAARP), which is currently owned by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.


“We were really, really concerned about all the arsenal that they were piling up,” Coffee County Sheriff Doyle Wooten told WALB when describing the men’s arsenal: four AR-15 rifles, four Glock hand guns, a Remington rifle and two to three thousand rounds of ammunition.


Photo: Coffee County Sheriff's Office via Douglas NOW

Photo: Coffee County Sheriff’s Office via Douglas NOW


The weapons were with radios, flak jackets, $5,500 in cash and marijuana.


Investigators said the reason behind their plan to attack HAARP was related to some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the facility, including weather manipulation, mind control and even soul snatching.


The plot was uncovered during an investigation into methamphetamine drug deals, Douglas NOW reports.


A local gun store owner told authorities Mancil had attempted to buy a large amount of weapons, something out of character for him, according to Wooten.


“He’s never known to be violent. This past four to six weeks he just snapped and just changed. His whole personality changed,” Wooten told WALB.


UAF spokeswoman Marmian Grimes said Georgia law enforcement, including the FBI, reached out to UAF campus police, who will continue to follow the investigation.


“As I noted, they have been working with state and federal colleagues in Alaska and Georgia and apparently there has, so far, been no corroboration of the suspects’ intent to attack the HAARP facility, beyond their verbal statements,” Grimes explained in an email. “Law enforcement searches did not find any research materials related to HAARP or Alaska, no written plans or maps.”


She said security measures are already in place at the facility to protect staff and their projects, and those working at the facility were notified of the alleged plot.


“This is a scientific research facility, and we certainly are aware of lots of conspiracy theories surrounding the facility,” Marmian laughed. “Those have been in existence for many, many years. They’re not true.”


She said the theories persist despite open houses at the facility and public disclosure of projects underway at HAARP. Answers to frequently asked questions about the facility can be found here.


KTVA reached out the Coffee County Sheriff’s office, but no one was immediately available to comment on the investigation.