Thirteen members or associates of armed, anti-government white nationalist gangs were arrested on Thursday in a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer and harm law enforcement officers and other elected officials.
In a joint press conference between the FBI, Department of Justice and Michigan law enforcement, representatives detailed the arrests of 13 white males who “conspired to “kidnap the governor from her vacation home in the western district of Michigan before the November election,” said Andrew Birge, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan.
Those named in the federal complaint—Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta—are all Michigan residents except for Croft, who is a resident of Delaware.
Birge detailed that earlier this year, the FBI launched an investigation against groups who discussed the “violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components” on social media.
After months of surveillance, the investigation revealed that the group used what Birge described as “operational security measures including communicating by encrypted messaging platforms and used code words and phrases” to cover up their plans from law enforcement.
Out of those arrested, Fox and Croft planned to detonate bombs to distract police, as well as, the detonation of a sample bomb was carried out.
Attorney General of Michigan, Dana Nessel also announced seven more arrests were made under the Michigan Anti-Terrorism Act. AG Nessel said those detained are “linked to the militia group, Wolverine Watchmen, and associates of Wolverine Watchmen.”
The state complaints allege that the seven arrested “attempted to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them, made threats of violence intended to instigate a civil war and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capitol building of Michigan; and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan.”
“When our leaders meet with, encourage or fraternize with domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions, they are complicit.”—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Following the announcement of arrests, Gov. Whitmer, who was elected into office in 2019, held a press conference. In her remarks, she blamed President Donald Trump for creating an atmosphere that created fertile soil for hate groups.
“Our head of state has spent the last seven months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division,” she said.
Gov. Whitmer also said that Trump’s call for groups to “stand down and stand by” did not send a message of “rebuke, but as a rallying cry. As a call to action,. When our leaders speak, their words matter. They carry weight.”
In late April, the Michigan United for Liberty group organized a protest against Gov. Whitmer’s quarantine measures. The rally drew thousands of armed demonstrators who stormed the state capitol building. Reports from the marches detailed participants carrying nooses and Swastikas. African American elected official, Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-MI) was escorted by an all-black security force due to her concern of lack of security during the protests.
The foiled plot against Gov. Whitmer points to the warnings by US intelligence of threats of violence and acts of terrorism leading up to the elections. A report by Reuters outlines voiced concerns found in memos from the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of domestic extremism, political tension and a possible civil unrest.
Trump responded to the arrests by criticizing Gov. Whitmer’s critique of him via a Twitter thread.
Governor Whitmer of Michigan has done a terrible job. She locked down her state for everyone, except her husband’s boating activities. The Federal Government provided tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan. My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced…
…today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist—while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burn down Democrat run cities…
..I do not tolerate ANY extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose and attack me, is what I will always do as your President! Governor Whitmer—open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!
If found guilty, detainees face up to life in prison.
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