JOHANNESBURG – Police found an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition at the home of a South African terror suspect accused of threatening to spread foot-and-mouth disease in the U.S. and Britain, prosecutors said at a bail hearing Friday.
At the hearing, Brian Roach's lawyers said he would plead guilty to attempted extortion, but not to terror charges. They also said he was no longer seeking bail.
"Mr. Roach is not denying the factual elements per se. What Mr. Roach is denying is that he committed an act of terrorism," said defense attorney Cliff Alexander. "He's not a terrorist, he's a 63-year-old grandfather."
Roach is accused of sending e-mails threatening to spread the disease unless the governments paid him $4 million.
Roach, who owns an engineering firm outside Johannesburg and has business interests in Zimbabwe, is accused of saying in e-mails that he wanted the money to compensate white Zimbabwean farmers for land lost, and accusing the U.S. and British governments of not doing enough to help the farmers.
About 4,000 white farmers have been forced from their farms since 2000 in what Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe calls a campaign to put more land in the hands of impoverished blacks. Many of the beneficiaries, though, have been top politicians who are close to Mugabe.
South African investigators worked with U.S. and British officials on the case, and arrested Roach on Feb. 12 after a seven-month investigation.