The Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, has foiled a kidnap attempt on the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, planned by members of extremist groups, including six from the white supremacist group called the Wolverine Watchmen and seven others affiliated with them. Total of thirteen men were arrested in connection to the plot. They were apprehended during their final plot to abduct Governor Whitmer, attack the Legislature (House of Assembly) of the State of Michigan, and violently target law enforcement agents. According to court records, the FBI had discovered through social media early this year that some groups were discussing the “violent overthrow” of some state governments. Hence, the Bureau made use of confidential sources to track their movements.
Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, had not hidden her displeasure towards the conduct of the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, and has openly clashed with him on several occasions. The president, who is a Republican, had not held back in his toxic reference towards the person of Whitmer and her State’s administration. The Governor is one of the most serious leader enforcing social distancing and precautionary measures to curb the spread of the Corona Virus. Trump, in April this year, when the pandemic was still in its lowest ebb, had encouraged people to feel free to not be forced into being afraid of the virus. He tweeted: LIBERATE MICHIGAN!
Trump, who is himself at the moment infected with the virus and making use of special exclusive medications, had tried to waterdown the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, likening it to a mere flu from the onset. Trump later indirectly recommended the use of chloroquine which both the World Health Organisation and the country’s health authorities, advised against.
According to prosecutors, the terrorists planned to recruit a force of 200 supporters, invade the state capitol building in Lansing and take hostages. However, they changed strategy and adopted the plan to kidnap Whitmer while she is at her vacation home.
Last month, September, FBI Director, Christopher Wray, said that his agency was conducting investigations into domestic extremists, including white supremacists and anti-fascist (Antifa) groups.
As reported by Reuters, “internal U.S. security memos in recent months have warned that violent domestic extremists could pose a threat to election-related targets, a concern heightened by political tensions, civil unrest and foreign disinformation campaigns.
“The Wolverine Watchmen group has used Facebook since November 2019 to recruit members, and trained with firearms to prepare for the “boogaloo,” a term used in the militia movement for an uprising against the government or impending civil war, according to affidavits in support of the state charges.” Reuters added.
Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta, are the six men named in the plot and they could be imprisoned for life if they are convicted on the charges of attempted kidnap of Governor Whitmer.
Both Fox and Croft discussed detonating bombs as distraction. Fox had even gone under the Michigan highway bridge to inspect it for possible places to set the explosives, according to an account by a U.S. attorney, Andrew Birge.
The seven others affiliated with the Wolverine Watchmen arrested are Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison.
The Attorney General of Michigan, Dana Nessel read the state charges against the seven men affiliated with the Wolverine Watchmen, accusing them of violating Michigan’s anti-terrorism Act by conspiring to kidnap the Governor and propagate violence.
She said the seven affiliates of the Wolverine Watchmen planned to identify the residence of law enforcement agents and threaten them with violence. A total of 19 felony charges have been filed against them.
The Governor, in a press conference after the arrest of the terrorists, accused the 45th President of whipping up political extremist sentiments, and cited his comments regarding white supremacists during his debut debate against Joe Bidden, the Democrat candidate for November’s presidential election in the USA. During the debate, Trump had refused to openly denounce white supremacists, and drew the ire of Democrats and Independents by asking the “Proud Boys” to “STAND BACK and STAND BY”.
She said: “When our leaders meet with, encourage and fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions, and they are complicit.”
In retaliation, the President resorted to Twitter, the social media platform, to call the governor of Michigan an ingrate, saying that it is his justice department and law enforcement agents that had rescued her from danger and instead of thanking him, she is calling him a supporter of white supremacists. “My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement announced … today that they foiled a dangerous plot against the Governor of Michigan. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist”.
Trump’s major rival in the November Presidential Election, Joe Bidden, said Trump is “giving oxygen to the bigotry and hate we see on the march in our country”.
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