According to the Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI), thirteen individuals who were militia members are accused of domestic terrorism and attempted kidnapping, after the grand scheme was foiled by authorities, CBS News reported.
Detroit Free Press reports, the FBI filed an affidavit in U.S. District Court that alleges six militia members plotted a revolt against the government that included kidnapping Whitmer.
Six men face federal charges and seven more face state charges in a sadistic twisted plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before the Nov. 3 election, in retaliation for COVID-19 restrictions the Democratic governor imposed on the state. The six suspected men who face federal charges are — Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta. All are from Michigan except for Croft, who is from Delaware.
Attorney General Dana Nessel referred to the accused as "extremists" who are hoping to recruit new members "by seizing on a moment of civil unrest."
Seven more people linked to a militia group known as the Wolverine Watchmen are in custody on state charges, Nessel said. The seven others are also accused of attempting to find the home addresses of law enforcement officers to target them, making threats of violence intended to “instigate a civil war” and engaging in planning and training to attack the Michigan capitol building and kidnap government officials, including Whitmer.
Those seven individuals suspected of, providing material support for terrorist acts —- a 20-year felony, and felony firearm charges are, Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, William Null, Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison, Eric Molitor, and Michael Null.
In total, 19 state felony charges were filed by Nessel against the seven individuals known to be members or associates of the militia group Wolverine Watchmen, according to a release.
According to court documents published on Scribd, Fox, and several other individuals met in Dublin, Ohio, on June 3rd to discuss “creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient. They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor.”
According to the FBI affidavit, the accused individuals even purchased items for the plot including — a Taser and night goggles, conducted surveillance at Whitmer's cottage, and discussed blowing up a bridge to divert police.
The plot involved kidnapping Whitmer at her second home in northern Michigan while she was on vacation according to the documents.
The grand scheme was, however, foiled following a federal investigation that involved numerous paid undercover informants and 200 state and federal law enforcement officials executing search warrants in more than a dozen cities around the state, including, Belleville, Cadillac, Canton, Charlotte, Clarkston, Grand Rapids, Luther, Munith, Orion Township, Ovid, Portage, Shelby Township, and Waterford.
According to court filings, the FBI first learned through social media in early 2020 that a group was talking about the "violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components."
All of the men are said to have used operational security (OpSEC) to avoid detection, including communicating with encrypted messaging phrases and using code words, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge said at a news conference.
The FBI paid one informant more than $14,000 and another $8,600, according to the affidavit.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the public regarding the elaborate kidnapping plot thanking law enforcement while accusing the sitting President Donald Trump of being complicit in it, criticizizingTrump for "stoking distrust" and "giving comfort to those who spread fear and division."
The White House released a statement on behalf of President Trump, stating:
“President Trump has continually condemned white supremacists and all forms of hate," wrote White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a statement. "Governor Whitmer is sowing division by making these outlandish allegations. America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot.”
Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police, who was involved in the investigation of the case told Detroit Free Press "the nature of this case is rather unprecedented."
"This case is one of the largest cases in recent history that the Michigan State Police been involved in, " Gasper said. "It sends a very vivid reminder that while we may be in a period of discourse ... (with) fighting across the nation, law enforcement stands united."
Whitmer warned those who threatened violence: "We will find you, we will hold you accountable and we will bring you to justice.”