FBI uncovers armed militia plot to abduct Michigan Gov. Whitmer

Members of the militia group, Wolverine Watchmen, face state and federal terrorism charges.

The FBI uncovered a plot by an armed militia in Michigan to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, it annnounced Thursday.

Seven members of militia group Wolverine Watchmen, or associates of Wolverine Watchmen, face 19 state felony charges filed by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Separately, six individuals were charged by U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge with federal felonies following search warrants executed Wednesday.

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The suspects, now under arrest, are accused of calling on the groups’ members to identify the homes of law enforcement officers in order to target them; making threats of violence to instigate a civil war leading to societal collapse; and engaging in planning and training for an operation to attack the state Capitol and kidnap government officials, including Gov. Whitmer.

“There has been a disturbing increase in anti-government rhetoric and the re-emergence of groups that embrace extremist ideologies,” Nessel said. “These groups often seek to recruit new members by seizing on a moment of civil unrest and using it to advance their agenda of self-reliance and armed resistance. This is more than just political disagreement or passionate advocacy, some of these groups’ mission is simply to create chaos and inflict harm upon others.”

Through the efforts of more than 200 state and federal law enforcement officials, officers executed a series of search warrants and arrest warrants in more than a dozen Michigan cities, including Belleville, Cadillac, Canton, Charlotte, Clarkston, Grand Rapids, Luther, Munith, Orion Township, Ovid, Portage, Shelby Township and Waterford, according to a press release. 

Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison are all facing state-related terrorism charges connected to the militia plot. The six individuals facing federal charges, accused of conspiring to kidnap the governor are Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta.

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“Michigan law enforcement officers are united in our commitment to rooting out terrorism in any form and we will take swift action against anyone seeking to cause violence or harm in our state,” stated Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police.

In early 2020, the FBI learned through social media that a group was discussing a violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components, according to the criminal complaint obtained by Fox News.

Among those individuals were Croft and Fox. Through electronic communications, Croft and Fox agreed to unite others and take violent action against multiple state governments that they believe are violating the U.S. Constitution.

The criminal complaint also lays out the group's efforts to train for an attack, including, "firearms training and other combat drills." They met several times in Dublin, Ohio, and Lansing, Mich. At one meeting in Cambria, Wisc., they also tried to construct an IED; however, "The construction of the devices was faulty, and they did not detonate as planned."

Those who attended the meetings were told to leave if they were not willing to participate in attacks against the government and in kidnapping politicians. Franks also brought and fired a rifle with a silencer at the combat exercises, attendees shared photos and video recordings of the exercise on Facebook.

During phone calls monitored by the FBI, Fox said he needed 200 men to storm the Capitol in Lansing to take hostages, including the governor of Michigan for “treason,” and he said they would execute the plan before the 2020 elections.

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Fox News' Jake Gibson contributed to this report. This is developing. Please check back for updates.