Nine members of Hutaree, a Christian militia group in Michigan, were indicted on sedition and weapons charges in connection with an alleged plot to murder law enforcement officers in hopes of setting off an anti-government uprising. Ben Schmitt, of the Detroit Free Press, says those arrested are due in court on Wednesday.
NOAH ADAMS, host:
A Christian militia group based in the Midwest was planning to kill a police officer, then attack the funeral procession with improvised explosive devices. That is according to an indictment unsealed today in U.S. district court. Nine suspects have been charged in connection with that and other plots, eight of them have been arrested.
For more on the story, we're joined by Ben Schmitt of the Detroit Free Press. Mr. Schmitt, tell us, first of all, about the group. They're called the Hutaree. I don't know where that name comes from. Where are they? How big are they? And why are they alleged to have been plotting to kill police?
Mr. BEN SCHMITT (Detroit Free Press): Well, they're based out of, what we're gathering, a small town in Michigan known as Adrian, Michigan. And as far as how big they are, we're still trying to figure that out. It doesn't appear to be that they were very large. And what they were trying to do was have some sort of standoff with a group that they call the brotherhood, which means, in their mind, law enforcement.
And their plan was to, first of all, kill a police officer, then go to the funeral and let off some explosive devices that would kill more and then engage in some sort of violent standoff after the explosions.
ADAMS: And what would be the aim of that? What would be their plan?
Mr. SCHMITT: It was just some sort of, you know, a catalyst for more of a widespread attack against the government.
ADAMS: You mean they wanted other people to join them?
Mr. SCHMITT: That's right.
ADAMS: So, what happens now?
Mr. SCHMITT: Well, what happens now is they'll go to court Wednesday and they'll either be appointed lawyers or they will have lawyers that they hire and the legal process will move from there. Some of them will try to get out on bond. Some of them will be allowed to, maybe, some of them won't be. And then we'll proceed from there.
ADAMS: Do you get any idea of why the authorities think this group could be so dangerous?
Mr. SCHMITT: Well, I think what they were afraid of was, from what we're hearing is that they were there was going to be some sort of attack in April. And, of course, you know, it's March 29th, so they moved this weekend because they were so concerned about some sort of imminent attack.
ADAMS: And how many different locations were the arrests made?
Mr. SCHMITT: There was some here in Michigan, some in Ohio, and I think one in Indiana, I believe.
ADAMS: Is anything known about any of the people who were arrested?
Mr. SCHMITT: Yeah, I talked to the wife of the I'm sorry, the ex-wife of one of the men. His name is David Stone. He's said to be the leader. And she said that this thing started off they were married 10 years ago and this thing started off as sort of a peaceful praying thing, and then she saw it becoming more violent and saw the purchasing of heavy artillery, like AR-15 weapons. And at that point, she said she got out of the marriage. And she thought it was just becoming something that was out of control.
ADAMS: You've had a chance to take a careful look at their Web site. What do you see there?
Mr. SCHMITT: Well, their Web site, you know, there's a lot of hate-spewing. There's a training video where they're, you know, look to be walking through a forest with a bunch of weapons and all kinds of military gear on. And it's still something where we're kind of trying to find out what this all means.
ADAMS: You mentioned that you talked to the ex-wife of one of those who was arrested. Does it seem to be, in a way, a family organization?
Mr. SCHMITT: Well, there's definitely at least some family connection, because the David Stone, the alleged leader, has his new wife, who was arrested with him, and two sons. So, right off, four out of the nine suspects are, you know, related in some way.
ADAMS: Ben Schmitt, a staff writer with the Detroit Free Press. Thank you for your time.
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9 Militia Members Accused Of Plotting To Kill Police
Nine suspects linked to a self-described Christian militia called Hutaree were indicted Monday on sedition and weapons charges in what prosecutors say was a plot to spark an anti-government uprising by killing law enforcement officials.
The group's leader, David Brian Stone, along with his wife, two sons and several other co-conspirators, had stockpiled guns, ammunition and explosives, according to the indictment. The idea was to start by killing a police officer — either during a traffic stop or perhaps by luring the officer with a bogus 911 call — and then launch a second attack at the officer's funeral. They allegedly planned to do that by, among other things, using improvised explosive devices along the funeral route.
"It is believed by the Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more widespread uprising against the government," the indictment read.
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Michigan Militia Accused Of Plotting Attack On Police
Stone allegedly e-mailed diagrams of IEDs to someone he thought would know how to put them together, and then told his son to get the materials needed to make the devices. The indictment says Stone and his other son taught Hutaree members how to make explosives in June 2009.
Eight of the suspects were taken into custody this weekend after law enforcement officials fanned out over three states to arrest members of the Michigan-based group. The ninth suspect surrendered Monday night.
The arrests began Saturday evening when FBI agents surrounded a wooded property in Adrian, Mich., about 70 miles southwest of Detroit. Several suspects were taken into custody there. A short time later, members of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force raided homes in Hammond, Ind., and Sandusky, Ohio, looking for other members of the group.
The indictment did not say whether any explosives were uncovered in the raids.
Prosecutors say they moved in on the group out of concern that its members were about to launch part of the plan. FBI officials said the timing had nothing to do with recent threats over the passage of the new health care overhaul.
"Because the Hutaree had planned a covert reconnaissance operation for April, which had the potential for placing an unsuspecting member of the public at risk, the safety of the public and of the law enforcement community demanded intervention at this time," said U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade. She did not provide any details on that operation.
According to the group's Web site, it is in training to do battle with the Antichrist. It isn't entirely clear how the federal government fits into that battle, though the group apparently sees local and state police as "foot soldiers" for the federal government. It views the federal government as the enemy.
The Web site, which also says members are "preparing for the end times," has video of people running through the woods in camouflage gear. They are firing assault rifles and wearing camouflage paint on their faces. The group says it came up with the term "Hutaree," which it says means Christian warrior.
All nine suspects face charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. Stone and one of his sons also face charges of teaching the use of explosive materials.