Tag: plot

Virginia’s governor was also a possible target of an anti-government plot, the F.B.I. says.

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia was discussed as a possible target by members of an anti-government group charged last week with plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, the F.B.I. said on Tuesday.

During a hearing in Grand Rapids, Mich., Special Agent Richard J. Trask II of the F.B.I. said that Mr. Northam and other officials were targeted because of their aggressive lockdown orders to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week, 13 men accused of involvement in the alleged plot were charged with a variety of state and federal crimes including terrorism, conspiracy and weapons possession.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the authorities revealed that the suspects also spoke about “taking” the Virginia governor “based” on coronavirus lockdown orders that restricted businesses.

The F.B.I. alerted members of Mr. Northam’s security team throughout their investigation, Alena Yarmosky, Mr. Northam’s press secretary, said in a statement. The governor was not informed, “per security protocols,” Ms. Yarmosky said, but added that “at no time was the governor or his family in imminent danger.”

Mr. Northam, a Democrat, issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 30, instructing residents to leave their homes only for work, medical appointments, family care, shopping for essentials and “outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.”

In April, President Trump had openly encouraged right-wing protests of social distancing restrictions in Virginia, Michigan and other states with stay-at-home orders, a day after his administration had announced guidelines for governors to set their own timetables for reopening. “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment,” the president wrote on Twitter at the time. “It is under siege!”

Ms. Yarmosky referenced the president’s tweets in the statement from Mr. Northam’s office and said that the “rhetoric coming out of this White House has serious and potentially deadly consequences.” She added: “It must stop.”

Mr. Trask of the F.B.I. said that some of the suspects had held a meeting in Dublin, Ohio, several months ago where they “discussed possible targets” for “taking a sitting governor.”

Last week, the authorities said the men were affiliated with an extremist group called the Wolverine Watchmen, which court documents called “an anti-government, anti-law enforcement militia group.”

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Virginia Governor Was Also a Possible Target of Anti-Government Plot, F.B.I. Says

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia was discussed as a possible target by members of an anti-government group charged last week with plotting to kidnap the Michigan governor, the F.B.I. said on Tuesday.

During a hearing in Grand Rapids, Mich., Special Agent Richard J. Trask II of the F.B.I. said that Mr. Northam and other officials were targeted because of their aggressive lockdown orders to restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week, 13 men accused of involvement in the alleged plot were charged with a variety of state and federal crimes including terrorism, conspiracy and weapons possession. They also talked of planning to storm the Michigan State Capitol and start a civil war, the authorities said.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the authorities said the suspects also spoke about “taking” the Virginia governor “based” on coronavirus lockdown orders that restricted businesses.

Mr. Trask said that some of the suspects held a meeting in Dublin, Ohio, several months ago where they “discussed possible targets” for “taking a sitting governor.”

Mr. Trask also provided additional details about the alleged plans to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. One of the suspects, Adam Fox, spoke about a plan to take Ms. Whitmer out on a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan, and leave her stranded with the engine disabled so that someone would have to “come rescue” her, Mr. Trask said.

The other alternative had been to take Ms. Whitmer to Wisconsin or another unspecified state and to put her on trial. The accused had referred to her as “a tyrant.”

Last week, the authorities said the men were affiliated with an extremist group called the Wolverine Watchmen, which court documents called “an anti-government, anti-law enforcement militia group.”

The group met many times for tactical and firearms training and practiced building explosives, the F.B.I. said, and spoke about attacking law enforcement officers.

Mr. Trask and the prosecutor mentioned several other men who they said were involved in the surveillance and the discussion of the plot, including one from Wisconsin, but who were not among those arrested.

The testimony also indicated that the participants were suspicious that government informants were monitoring or had infiltrated their group, changing encrypted messaging platforms and giving each other code names in hopes of escaping such surveillance.

At one point after a planning trip to case the governor’s vacation home and the surrounding area, Mr. Fox asked that all the participants be scanned with a device that is supposed to identify if anyone was wearing a transmission wire or a recording device.

The effort apparently failed, Mr. Trask said, with the group eventually infiltrated by four informants or undercover agents who continued to document what the group was planning.

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Anti-government paramilitary groups in plot against Michigan governor also discussed kidnapping Virginia governor, FBI agent says

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Members of anti-government paramilitary groups discussed kidnapping Virginia’s governor during a June meeting in Ohio, an FBI agent testified Tuesday during a court hearing in Michigan.

Special Agent Richard Trask was part of the investigation that led to six men being arrested and charged last week with plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Seven other men face state terrorism charges.

Trask did not name Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, during his testimony in a federal courtroom in Grand Rapids. He said members of anti-government groups from multiple states attended the meeting.

“They discussed possible targets, taking a sitting governor, specifically issues with the governor of Michigan and Virginia based on the lockdown orders,” Trask said. He said the people at the meeting were unhappy with the governors’ response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trask did not discuss further planning aimed at Northam.

The FBI did not brief Northam on any potential threat, according to a state official with knowledge of the governor’s briefings who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The June meeting was part of the FBI’s investigation of various anti-government groups, leading to last week’s stunning announcement that six men had been arrested for an alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer.

Tuesday’s court hearing was to review investigators’ evidence against Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta and whether they should be detained before trial. The men are all Michigan residents.

A sixth man, Barry Croft, was being held in Delaware.

The FBI used confidential sources, undercover agents and clandestine recordings to foil the alleged kidnapping conspiracy. Some defendants had conducted coordinated surveillance of the Democratic governor’s vacation home in northern Michigan in August and September, according to a criminal complaint.

The men were trying to retaliate against Whitmer due to her “uncontrolled power” amid the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said. They said four of the men had planned to meet last week to pay for explosives and exchange tactical gear.

Whitmer, who was considered as Joe Biden’s running mate and is nearly halfway through a four-year term, has been widely praised for her response to the virus outbreak but also sharply criticized by Republican lawmakers and people in conservative areas of the state. The Capitol has been the site of many rallies, including ones with gun-toting protesters calling for her ouster.

Whitmer put major restrictions on personal movement and the economy, although many of those limits have been lifted since spring.

Fox, who was described as one of the leaders, was living in the basement of a vacuum shop in Grand Rapids. The owner said Fox was opposed to wearing a mask during the pandemic and kept firearms and ammunition at the store.

The defendants face up to life in prison if convicted.

Seven others linked to a paramilitary group called the Wolverine Watchmen were charged in state court for allegedly seeking to storm the Michigan Capitol and providing material support for terrorist acts by seeking a “civil war.”

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Extremist group’s plot to kidnap governor included plan to kill police

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‘Operation Gridlock’ aims to jam the roads around the Michigan Capitol in Lansing to object to restrictions in the stay-home order.

Detroit Free Press

Michigan law enforcement is on high alert after the FBI revealed an alleged plot by extremist groups to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also involved a “plan to target and kill police.”

“We’re cautious. We’re absolutely more careful,” said First Lt. Mike Shaw of the Michigan State Police. “This is one of the tactics these anti-government, domestic terrorism groups use. Law enforcement is the face of the government. if you’re mad at the government, you’re mad at the police.”

The alleged plot was unveiled last Thursday when the U.S. Department of Justice charged six men with conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer, which authorities said they wanted to carry out before Election Day. On the same day, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel brought charges against seven other men that included supporting terrorism, gang membership, and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony. 

Officials said the suspects were attempting to trigger “civil war” with a detailed plan to abduct the governor and attack other elected officials at the Statehouse. Part of the plot included plans to target police.

FBI Special Agent Richard J. Trask II cited the risk to law enforcement officers in a criminal complaint filed last Tuesday in U.S. District Court:

“The militia group had already been brought to the attention of the FBI by a local police department in March 2020 when members of the militia group were attempting to obtain the addresses of local law enforcement officers,” the filing says. “At the time, the FBI interviewed a member of the militia group who was concerned about the group’s plan to target and kill police officers and that person agreed to become a CHS (confidential human source).”

Michigan State Police First Lt. Mike Shaw, seen here outside of the 22nd District Court on July 3, 2014, says that state troopers remain on high alert with news of an alleged plot to kidnap and possibly kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

Shaw and others said the police are on high alert as risk continues to evolve beyond traffic stops and sitting in police cars to getting fake calls for service and targeting police when they’re out of uniform. 

State Police are constantly evaluating the credibility of threats against troopers and facilities and taking measures to reduce potential for harm, Shaw said.

Michigan State Police are assigned to protect the governor. Whitmer thanked troopers for their commitment to public service after officials made the arrests in the federal case.

The Free Press interviewed current and former law enforcement officers who said the threat to Michigan police by extremist groups from both ends of the political spectrum are taken seriously and reconnaissance is provided to protect public officials, as well as those guarding them, at home and at work. 

Police told the Free Press that family members are rarely informed when individual officers

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Trump’s law-and-order mantra goes missing in wake of domestic terror plot against Democratic governor

Over the summer, as racial justice demonstrations swept through American cities, President Donald Trump warned he would wield the powers of government to suppress violence. Embracing a “law and order” mantle, Trump himself announced from the East Room a surge of federal agents and castigated groups such as Black Lives Matter as cultivating “hate.”



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a flag: NEWPORT NEWS, VA - SEPTEMBER 25: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport on September 25, 2020 in Newport News, Virginia. President Trump is scheduled to announce his nomination to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday afternoon at the White House. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
NEWPORT NEWS, VA – SEPTEMBER 25: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport on September 25, 2020 in Newport News, Virginia. President Trump is scheduled to announce his nomination to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday afternoon at the White House. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“My first duty as President is to protect the American people, and today I’m taking action to fulfill that sacred obligation,” he declared.

A few months later, Trump’s only acknowledgment of his government taking down an alleged domestic terrorism plot to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan was to wonder why he hadn’t been thanked.

How Trump chooses to promote his administration’s efforts to enforce “law and order” follow a clear pattern of political calculation; in instances when the Justice Department finds cases that bolster his claims of fraudulent voting, rampant urban crime or deep state corruption, Trump is eager to participate.

But when the government has worked to combat extremist anti-government groups — which even his own FBI says present the most pressing threat to the nation — Trump has at best ignored the efforts and at worst used them to fan the very resentments held by the groups’ followers.

The situation could only become more fraught as the election nears and as some extremist groups seek to retaliate against continued lockdown orders. Trump himself has railed against continued restrictions and has pointedly refused to call for post-election calm, even as he makes false claims about a rigged vote.

Former officials and others familiar with the situation say Trump has demonstrated little interest in making efforts to combat domestic terrorism a priority for his administration, despite warnings from law enforcement officials, members of Congress and groups that track extremism about the increasing threat of extremist and far-right groups. Some have claimed White House officials attempted to suppress use of the phrase “domestic terrorism” altogether over the course of the Trump administration.

Others said it was evident Trump recognized his own supporters were among those being labeled “domestic terrorists” and believed it would damage his standing with his base to warn of their danger.

Animated instead by immigration enforcement and a crackdown on urban crime — issues he believes galvanize his voters — Trump has publicly downplayed the threat posed by armed militia groups and sought to focus attention elsewhere.

After the FBI investigated whether local officials in Pennsylvania improperly discarded ballots, Trump was briefed personally on the matter by Attorney General Bill Barr and revealed details of it during a Fox interview before they were made public.

He has also

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnap plot busted by FBI

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer addresses the media about the flooding along the Tittabawassee River, after several dams breached, in downtown Midland, Michigan, U.S., May 20, 2020.

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

Federal authorities charged six men for allegedly plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from her vacation home before November’s presidential election, with one of the defendants allegedly saying they would then try Whitmer for “treason,” officials revealed Thursday.

Seven other men known to be members or associates of the militia group Wolverine Watchmen were charged under Michigan’s anti-terrorism law.

The investigation that led to the case began in early 2020 when “the FBI became aware through social media that a group of individuals were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components,” court records show.

The FBI later heard the men and others talking about attacking the Michigan state Capitol and using Molotov cocktails to destroy police vehicles. The plot allegedly included one of the men surveilling Whitmer’s vacation home.

Charged in the case are five Michigan residents, Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, and a Delaware man, Barry Croft.

The defendants were arrested on Wednesday night, according to Andrew Birge, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan. 

Vehicles are seen outside of a home the FBI searched in a Hartland Township mobile home park late Wednesday night and into the morning in connection of a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, on October 8, 2020 in Heartland, Michigan.

Jeff Kowalsky | AFP | Getty Images

Several of the men were arrested as they met in the eastern part of Michigan to pool money to buy explosives, Birge said.

One of the defendants had said he already had bought an 800,000-volt Taser to be used in the kidnap plot, according to a criminal complaint.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, the top state law enforcement official, at a news conference announced the arrests of seven other men on state charges related to the same wide-ranging investigation that led to the federal prosecution of the six other men.

Whitmer earlier this year drew the ire of President Donald Trump, other conservatives and members of militia groups for strict her stay-at-home orders issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The president in April tweeted “Liberate Michigan!”

That same month, thousands of demonstrators, some of whom were armed, protested Whitmer’s orders at the state capitol in Lansing.

A criminal complaint, which includes an FBI agent’s affidavit, says that on June 6 there was a meeting in Dublin, Ohio, between Croft, Fox and about 13 other people from several states.

At that meeting, “the group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the complaint said. “They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions.”

A broken window is seen on a home the FBI searched in a Hartland Township mobile home park late Wednesday night and into the morning

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FBI foiled right-wing militia’s plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

  • The FBI foiled an alleged plot by five men to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the state’s government, the bureau announced Thursday.
  • “Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”
  • Armed right-wing protesters stormed the Michigan capitol earlier this year after Whitmer signed an executive order imposing a statewide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
  • President Donald Trump also called on his supporters at the time to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and later refused to condemn the armed protesters who converged on the capitol, calling them “very good people.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Federal prosecutors have charged five men with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and overthrow the state’s government, Detroit News first reported.

NBC News’ Tom Winter reported that the five men identified in court documents are Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta.

Federal prosecutors are expected to discuss the alleged kidnapping plot at a press conference Thursday. The news comes after FBI agents and Michigan state police spent hours on Wednesday night raiding a home in Hartland, Michigan. WXYZ reported that the raid was connected to the investigation into the defendants.

According to an FBI affidavit, the defendants allegedly reached out to members of an armed, right-wing militia in Michigan to carry out their plan.

“In early 2020, the FBI became aware through social media that a group of individuals were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components. Among those individuals identified were CROFT and FOX,” Richard Trask II, an FBI agent, wrote in the sworn affidavit. “Through electronic communications, CROFT and FOX agreed to unite others in their cause and take violent action against multiple state governments that they believe are violating the U.S. Constitution.”

“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” Trask wrote. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message. As part of that recruitment effort, FOX reached out to a Michigan based militia group.”

Trask added that the militia group had previously come under FBI scrutiny in a March when a member of the group told the bureau they were concerned about its plans “to target and kill police officers.” That person later agreed to become a confidential human source (CHS), Trask said. He wrote that the FBI was able to monitor the activities of Fox and others through confidential human sources.

In one instance, on June 14, a source “participated in a consensually recorded telephone call” with Fox, who “said he needed ‘200 men’ to storm the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, and take hostages, including the governor,” Trask wrote. Fox said “they would try the Governor of Michigan for ‘treason,’ and he said they would

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