Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

F.B.I. Says Michigan Militia Plotted to Kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Six men were arrested and accused of plotting with a militia group to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, the authorities announced on Thursday.

The men, some of whom the F.B.I. said had discussed overthrowing the government, had been discussing taking Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat, hostage since at least the summer, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court and unsealed on Thursday. Several of the men had talked about creating a society in which they could be “self-sufficient” and one said he wanted 200 men to storm the Statehouse in Lansing, Mich.

The men gathered over the summer for firearms training, combat drills and tried to make explosives, Richard J. Trask II, an F.B.I. special agent, said in the criminal complaint. In July, one of the men said the group should take Ms. Whitmer hostage and move her to a “secure location” in Wisconsin for a “trial,” the agent said.

Members of the group surveilled her vacation home in August and September, and they indicated that they wanted to take her hostage before the presidential election in November, according to the complaint. The F.B.I. said it believed that the men had planned to buy explosives this week for their attempt. Some of the information in the criminal complaint came from encrypted messages intercepted by the F.B.I., as well as undercover agents and confidential informants.

All six men — five of whom live in Michigan and one of whom lives in Delaware — were charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which can carry a life sentence. More details were expected at a news conference later on Thursday with the state’s attorney general.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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