Federal and state officials revealed yesterday that they had thwarted a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, unsealing charges against 13 people who they say were involved in various plans to attack law enforcement, overthrow the government and ignite a civil war.
Officials said the conspiracy which was supposed to come to fruition before the election seemed to be an ominous indication of how America’s civil unrest has energized violent extremists.
The plotters, according to an FBI affidavit, seemed to be motivated at least in part by their belief that state governments, including Michigan’s, were violating the Constitution.
One of those involved complained in June that Whitmer (D) was controlling the opening of gyms an apparent reference to Coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown restrictions and others were involved in a militia group that had contemplated targeting police in their homes, authorities said. They trained together with firearms and experimented with explosives, authorities said.
But unbeknown to them, the FBI had confidential informants recording many of their meetings and discussions. Before they could attack, law enforcement moved in, arresting some as they pooled money for more explosives, officials said. Six of those were charged federally, and the rest were charged in state court, though officials announced the cases together.
“There has been a disturbing increase in anti-government rhetoric and the re-emergence of groups that embrace extremist ideologies,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) said in a statement announcing the charges. “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.”
The arrests come as federal and local law enforcement are particularly attuned to the possibility of politically motivated violence in the final month before the election. The FBI is investigating potential domestic terrorists around the country and trying to determine whether any of those people are planning acts of violence before or after the election, according to law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing investigations.