The US FBI says it has thwarted a plot to kidnap and oust Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmire became a target for skeptics about the existence of the Corona virus after imposing strict measures that a judge canceled last week.
Officials said the kidnapping plot included six men who planned to hold a “trial for treason”.
“There is no place for hatred, intolerance and violence” in Michigan, Whitmer said, describing the defendants as “corrupt.”
What were they planning?
According to an FBI affidavit, a secret law enforcement source attended a meeting in June in Dublin, Ohio, during which a group of militia members in Michigan discussed overthrowing state governments “they believe are violating the US Constitution.”
The indictment states that “many members spoke of killing“ tyrants ”or“ kidnapping ”the state governor. In one of the videos, a suspect denounced the state’s role in determining the date of the reopening of gyms during the closure of the Corona virus.
Investigators arrested thirteen people in the case.
Six of the accused men, five of whom were from Michigan and one from Delaware, are said to have planned a “treason trial” against Whitmer.
The authorities revealed the six suspects, namely: Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Caleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Cassert and Tay Garpen, whose home the authorities raided on Wednesday.
The other seven are facing charges of terrorism and gang-related crimes in state court in connection with the kidnapping plot.
The group wanted to gather about “200 men” to storm the Capitol and take hostages, including the state governor. They had hoped to activate their plan before the presidential elections in November. They planned to attack the governor at her home if the first plan failed, officials said.
The US attorney for the Western District in Michigan said that the defendants “coordinated surveillance of the state governor’s home,” adding that they had also planned Molotov cocktail attacks on police officers, bought an electric stun gun, and raised their money to purchase explosives and necessary equipment.
What do we know about the group?
The FBI says that the defendants conducted weapons training in several states, and in some cases tried to make bombs, adding that their training was videotaped.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said that in addition to the kidnapping charges, the state will charge seven members of the “Wolverine Guard” militia with belonging to a gang and providing material support to terrorists. Nessel said the arrested militia members had hoped to start a civil war.
Colonel Joe Gasper, Michigan State Police Chief, said in a statement announcing the charges against the “Wolverine Guards”: “Michigan law enforcement officers are united and act within our commitment to eradicating terrorism in any form and we will take swift action against anyone seeking to cause violence or harm in Our mandate. “
What did the governor say?
In a press conference held Thursday, the state governor linked the kidnapping attempt to the speech of President Donald Trump, who said that he had spent the past months “raising suspicion, stirring up anger and comforting those who spread fear, hatred and division.”
The governor noted Trump’s failure to explicitly denounce white supremacists in the first presidential debate last week, describing his comments as a “rallying cry” for hate groups. Trump repeatedly denounced these organizations in the days following the presidential debate.
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate against Trump, condemned the militias as a “real threat” and said that Trump’s “liberate” tweet encouraged the militias. “The president’s words are important,” he said, adding: “Why doesn’t the president say stop, stop, stop, stop?”
Numerous violent incidents have been linked to civilian militia groups across the United States in recent years. Sometimes followers, often white men, wave weapons during protests. The Department of Homeland Security warned this week in an annual report that violent white supremacy was “the most persistent and deadly threat nationwide.”
The closure orders issued by Whitmer attracted thousands of protesters to the state Capitol, where many compared them to German dictator Adolf Hitler. In April, President Donald Trump expressed support for the protesters, tweeting, “Liberate Michigan.”
“None of us faced a challenge like COVID-19,” Whitmer said on Thursday. She added, “We are not each other’s enemies. This virus is our enemy and this enemy is relentless.”
Last Friday, the state Supreme Court ruled that Whitmire does not have the legal authority to issue emergency executive orders and that this responsibility rests with the state legislature.
Following the ruling, the attorney who defended the case before the Supreme Court advised citizens to “burn the masks,” which health officials say are necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
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