Tag: FBI

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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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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F.B.I. Says Michigan Anti-Government Group Plotted to Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Those six men were charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which can carry a life sentence. Their names were listed in court documents as Adam Fox, Kaleb Franks, Brandon Caserta, Ty Garbin, Daniel Harris and Barry Croft. Mr. Croft lives in Delaware and the other five live in Michigan, the authorities said. No lawyers were immediately listed for the men.

The authorities said that Mr. Fox and Mr. Croft had decided to “unite others” to “take violent action” against state governments that they thought were violating the Constitution and that Mr. Fox was the one to initiate contact with a Michigan-based anti-government group. The F.B.I. said he had talked of storming the Michigan statehouse with 200 men and trying Ms. Whitmer for treason.

Brian Titus, the owner of a vacuum store in Grand Rapids, Mich., said that he had hired Mr. Fox, whom he had known since childhood, and even given him a place to stay in the store’s basement after he was kicked out of his girlfriend’s home. Mr. Titus said the store was raided on Wednesday.

“I felt sorry for him but I didn’t know he was capable of doing this; this is almost insane,” Mr. Titus said in an interview. “I knew he was in a militia, but there’s a lot of people in a militia that don’t plan to kidnap the governor. I mean, give me a break.”

Ms. Whitmer has been the subject of attack from right-wing protesters for measures she imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus.

In April, thousands of people gathered at the State Capitol to protest the executive orders she issued shutting down most of the state to help stop the spread of the virus that has now infected more than 145,000 Michiganders and killed more than 7,000.

President Trump openly encouraged such protests, tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

The protests featured some signs with swastikas, Confederate flags and language that advocated violence against Ms. Whitmer, including one man who carried a doll with brown hair hanging from a noose. Many in the crowd carried semiautomatic weapons, leading some Democrats in the Legislature to call for a ban on guns in the Capitol.

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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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Unredacted FBI Document Reveals Long-Standing Effort by White Supremacists to Infiltrate Law Enforcement

A recently unredacted FBI report revealed a long standing effort to infiltrate law enforcement by white supremacists.

According to the Intercept, the report was released by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin, chair of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, before a Tuesday hearing on the efforts of white supremacists to infiltrate local law enforcement agencies. An extensively redacted version of the document was publicly released in 2006 and is among a series of bureau documents that display a growing concern about white supremacists in law enforcement. The committee invited the FBI to attend the hearing but the agency declined.

“Having personnel within law enforcement agencies has historically been and will continue to be a desired asset for white supremacist groups seeking to anticipate law enforcement interest in and actions against them,” a previously redacted section read.

From the Intercept:

Another previously redacted section warned of “factors that might generate sympathies among existing law enforcement personnel and cause them to volunteer their support to white supremacist causes,” which could include hostility toward developments in U.S. domestic and foreign policies “that conflict with white supremacist ideologies,” the report warns.

Some redactions do not seem to be justified, for instance, the FBI’s conclusion that “white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement can result in other abuses of authority and passive tolerance of racism within communities served” — an apparent recognition of the potential harm to the public posed by white supremacist individuals embedded in police departments.

Other redactions relate to incidents of compromised intelligence. The unredacted document notes that “a white supremacist leader is known to have acquired a sensitive FBI Intelligence Bulletin on the white supremacist movement that had been posted on Law Enforcement Online and had inadvertently become publicly accessible through a law enforcement Web site. In addition to identifying the FBI personnel who prepared the bulletin, the document identified the FBI’s targeting interests within the white supremacist movement.”

The redacted material also broke down “strategic infiltration and recruitment campaigns” carried out by white supremacists. The document notes that the National Alliance (NA), a white nationalist group founded by William Pierce, was key to much of the information regarding white supremacists attempting to infiltrate law enforcement.

“White supremacist infiltration of the federal government, including the FBI, plays a prominent role in Pierce’s novels, The Turner Diaries (1978) and Hunter (1989), both widely read works that are sometimes interpreted as practical guidance within white supremacist circles,” the document reads.

The document notes that several retired and active members of law enforcement were known to be members of the NA, with some actually holding leadership positions. Their success at infiltrating law enforcement led to concerns that it would lead other white supremacist groups to try similar tactics.

Another previously redacted section goes into examples that the FBI found of “white supremacist sympathizers,” in law enforcement.

From the Intercept:

In one, the memo mentions that “in July 2006, a former police officer with possible ties to the KKK was charged with

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