FBI busts militia 'plot' to abduct Michigan Gov Gretchen Whitmer

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Media signature“Hate groups heard the president’s words … as a collective call”: Ms. Whitmer calls Trump

Michigan’s governor was kept abreast of a conspiracy and was relocated as the FBI tracked down their possible kidnappers, the US state attorney general announced.

On Thursday, the FBI said it had foiled a plot of suspected militiamen who were planning to hold a “treason trial” for Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

A total of 13 men were charged.

Strict measures against the coronavirus in Michigan have made Governor Whitmer a target for Covid-19 skeptics.

On Friday, Attorney General Dana Nessel told CBS News, “At times, she and her family had moved because of activities that were known to law enforcement.”

Ms. Nessel said the Democratic governor had been kept abreast of the investigation over the past few months.

The suspects were getting close to implementing their plan to move police in “before anyone lost their life,” she added.

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Antrim County Sheriff’s Office

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Top (LR): Adam Fox, Brandon Caserta, Daniel Harris and Kaleb Franks. Bottom (LR): Ty Garbin, Eric Molitor, Michael Null and William Null

What were they supposed to be planning?

According to an FBI affidavit released Thursday, an undercover source attended a meeting in Ohio in June where a group of Michigan militia members discussed the overthrow of state governments “which they believed violated the US Constitution violated “.

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Media signatureOfficials say the alleged conspiracy involved the kidnapping of Ms. Whitmer from her vacation home

In a video, a suspect condemned the state’s role in deciding when to reopen gyms during the coronavirus lockdown.

The men met in a basement accessible through a trap door hidden under a rug, investigators said.

Six men – five from Michigan and one from Delaware – are charged in federal court with plotting the kidnapping.

  • Armed lockdown protesters at the Michigan Statehouse
  • What are US Militia Groups?

These six have been named as Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Casert, and Ty Garbin. Mr. Garbin’s home in a trailer park was searched by authorities on Wednesday.

The other seven will be charged with terrorism and gang-related crimes in a state court in connection with the alleged kidnapping.

They are Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison.

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Media signatureThe Michigan protesters were some of the most vocal anti-lockdown opponents in the US

The group wanted to gather around “200 men” to storm the Capitol and take hostages, including the governor. They hoped to implement their plan before the November presidential election. If that failed, they planned to attack the governor at her home, officials said.

The social media boogaloo problem

It has been reported that these men have ties to a militia group called Boogaloo Bois. This is a movement that has grown online.

It’s actually pretty hard to describe the group’s motives. It’s not “right” in the traditional sense. Movement members are vehemently against law enforcement – some were arrested for killing police officers.

By and large, they are extremist libertarians – think Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, but with guns.

The term “boogaloo” usually refers to a civil war. They have a deeply ingrained hatred of big governments – confusingly, they are often, if not exclusively, for Trump too. Therefore, their anger is often more focused on the state than on the federal government.

It took social media a long time to respond to Boogaloo. Facebook removed a number of boogaloo groups in June – including the group these men allegedly belonged to. I showed TikTok a series of boogaloo videos that were on their platform in July. Even now it’s very easy to find boogaloo videos on social media – the hashtags used change frequently, making it difficult to keep up with.

This story shows the importance of monitoring social media platforms for extremist content – before it leads to violence.

  • Who are Boogaloo Bois, Antifa and Proud Boys?

What did the governor say?

In a press conference Thursday, the governor linked the conspiracy against them with rhetoric from President Donald Trump, who had spent months “fueling suspicion, fueling anger and comforting those who spread fear, hatred and division”.

In April, Mr. Trump implied support for the protesters and tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN”. A month later, armed protesters opposed to the lockdown stormed the state capital.

Michigan’s attorney general confirmed Thursday that two men who were photographed at the protest in May were among the arrested suspects.

On Thursday evening, Republican Trump attempted to pay tribute to federal investigators in order to remove the alleged threat to the governor.

“Instead of thanking me, she calls me a white supremacist – while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn antifas, anarchists, looters and mobs who are burning down Democratic-run cities,” he tweeted.

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Anti-lockdown protesters have labeled Ms. Whitmer as Hitler

Michigan could prove crucial to next month’s US presidential election outcome.

Democratic White House challenger Joe Biden denounced militias as a “real threat” and said Trump’s “liberating” tweet was encouraging militias. “A president’s words matter,” he said, adding, “Why can’t the president just say stop, stop, stop, stop?”

Numerous incidents of violence have been linked to citizen militia groups in the United States in recent years.

Supporters, often white men, sometimes wave guns during protests. The Department of Homeland Security warned in an annual report this week that violent white supremacy is the “most persistent and deadly threat in the homeland”.