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Tag: wolverine watchmen

‘Domestic Terrorists’ In Whitmer Kidnap Plot May Face Life Sentences

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Federal prosecutors have been reluctant for decades to use references to "domestic terrorism" in their charges and filing papers in crimes involving right-wing extremists, but that appears to be changing now, in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. The latest filings in the case involving the 14 militiamen who plotted last year to kidnap and murder Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer make that plain.

A superseding indictment from the grand jury in the case filed this week by the Justice Department—adding new charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, based on the men's plot to use a massive explosive charge to destroy a bridge near Whitmer's summer home—is quite clear: "The defendants engaged in domestic terrorism."

The same plotters—who called themselves the "Wolverine Watchmen"—had a much wider-ranging original plan, which included invading the Michigan Statehouse in Lansing with 200 armed militiamen, taking state officials hostage, and then holding televised executions. When they realized the logistics of such a plan were overwhelming, they reverted to the simpler plot to kidnap Whitmer.

This week's indictment focuses on four men—Adam Fox, 40, of Wyoming, Michigan; Barry Croft Jr., 45, of Bear, Delaware; Daniel Joseph Harris, 23, of Lake Orion; and Ty Garbin, 25, of Hartland—who conducted surveillance and bought explosives in preparation for carrying off their kidnapping plans. They were charged with conspiracy—joining codefendants Kaleb Franks and Brandon Caserta, who already were indicted on that charge—while Harris and Croft had additional weapons charges added to their case.

Garbin entered a guilty plea in December 2020 to the original indictment charging him with conspiracy to kidnap the governor and now awaits sentencing; he is reportedly cooperating with investigators as part of the plea deal. He appears to have been a primary source of the information in the indictment, along with the federal informant who provided most of the original evidence.

The men had held their first paramilitary training exercise to prepare for their plan in July 2020 in Wisconsin. They attempted to detonate a couple of improvised bombs but failed. They continued building similar devices—which included a balloon filled with steel ball bearings. When the men gathered again in September for another session, they had greater success, setting off a couple of the bombs in the vicinity of silhouette targets shaped like humans, and were satisfied with the resulting damage caused by the shrapnel.

Preparing for that later session, Garbin in an encrypted text message to his fellow conspirators suggested "taking down a highway bridge near the governor's vacation home." After the training session, the men drove to Whitmer's summer home to conduct surveillance.

Along the way, Fox and Croft "stopped to inspect the underside of a highway bridge near the vacation home for a place to mount an explosive charge," the indictment said.

Afterward, the men ordered $4,000 worth of explosives from the FBI informant, who was posing as someone who was capable of providing the men with such materials. Fox, Franks, and Harris drove to Ypsilanti, Michigan, to make the down payment.

If convicted of kidnapping conspiracy, the five defendants face life sentences in prison, while the conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction also includes a maximum of life in prison.

Whitmer on Thursday told CNN that each gradual revelation of the plot's details is increasingly "disturbing."

"I'm incredibly grateful to the FBI and [Michigan State Police] and that gratitude only grows with more revelations about how serious and scary this group was. And how intent they were on not just harming me but harming our law enforcement, harming communities," Whitmer said on New Day. "The rhetoric has got to stop. We've got to all rise to this challenge and stop vilifying and encouraging these domestic extremists to hurt our fellow Americans."

Confidential FBI Informant Testifies About Whitmer Kidnap Plot

JACKSON, Mich. — A confidential FBI informant is testifying Friday in a Jackson County courthouse about being embedded for months alongside leaders of a group accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The informant’s identity is being concealed in court for his safety. Introduced only as “Dan,” an online video feed of Friday's hearing was cut off during his testimony so court observers only could hear him. Dan described learning of the group — known as the Wolverine Watchmen — through a Facebook algorithm that he believed made the suggestion based on his interactions with o...

Far-Right ‘Boogaloo’ Activist Charged With Rioting In Minneapolis

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump and many of his allies in the right-wing media have been claiming that most or all of the political violence that has occurred in the United States following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 has come from the left — totally overlooking the history of violence associated with the Proud Boys, QAnon and a variety of white nationalist and militia groups. But federal prosecutors accused a Texas-based member of the far-right Boogaloo Bois on Friday of going to Minneapolis in late May with the intention of taking part in a riot.

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Militia Misfits Are Ridiculous And Infantile -- Yet Still Terribly Dangerous

Back in my own days playing guns, we had the coolest hideout ever: a hut we'd built on a wooded half acre out of lumber liberated from a subdivision under construction. The way we looked at it, they owed us; a fair exchange for converting the woods and ponds where we hiked, fished, and ice-skated into a suburban subdivision. Rolling Hills, they called it.

OK, so the fireplace didn't draw, the roof leaked, and the secret compartment under the floor where we'd stashed our prized collection of naughty magazines got nibbled into the world's naughtiest mouse nest. It was a perfect hideout. No girls allowed. (Not that any of us knew an actual female person who'd willingly crawl into that dank interior.)

It was our secret refuge. We were twelve years old. We called ourselves "The Royal Majestic Order of the Quince," after a nearby flowering bush. We weren't trying to scare people, but not just anybody could be a Quince. Our weapons of war were BB guns, slingshots and acorns. Sometimes we took our little brothers prisoner and locked them up until they cried. Then a little while longer. We fancied ourselves merciless and bold.

Anyway, I couldn't help but think of all that pre-adolescent play-acting when I read about the "Wolverine Watchmen" and their hidden basement hideout behind a trap door under a vacuum cleaner store in rural Michigan.

We soon grew out of it. The Wolverines, apparently not.

See, that's the thing about these self-styled militiamen and wannabe terrorists. Their view of the world is essentially juvenile. Which doesn't mean they can't be dangerous. Quite the opposite.

To underline the point, here's a classic militia rant: "I believe we are slowly turning into a socialist government. The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful, and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control."

Sound familiar? It's Timothy McVeigh, terrorist murderer of 168 people in the 1993 Oklahoma City truck bombing.

Show me somebody who becomes obsessed with government "tyranny," poses for photos carrying an AR-15 and staring grimly in camouflage fatigues, and who hangs out Confederate flags, and I'll show you a bearded child. In contemporary America, there are few things more dangerous.

Only a child could possibly imagine that kidnapping and murdering Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could lead to anything but disaster. "Grab the fuckin' governor," Wolverine honcho Adam Fox allegedly told an FBI informant. "Just grab the bitch. Because at that point, we do that, dude—it's over."

Now their lives are essentially over, all 13 of them facing state and federal charges after months of accumulating weapons and night-vision scopes, building bombs, communicating in coded messages, and even conducting post-midnight surveillance of the governor's lakeside vacation home.

Playing guns. One guy was going to paint his fishing boat black to facilitate a late night kidnapping; others planned to bomb a nearby highway overpass to distract law enforcement. They first attracted police attention by trying to learn the home addresses of local cops. That will get you busted every time.

Everything came apart after a couple of Wolverines got cold feet and went to the law. The Feds had informants wired for sound during meetings in the basement hideout—two of them, who didn't know about each other.

Gov. Whitmer, see, had provoked the outrage of bearded children across Michigan with a series of stringent lockdown orders meant to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. "LIBERATE MICHIGAN," the honorary head Wolverine in the White House tweeted on April 17 amid his deadly campaign to "re-open" the economy before public health officials thought it wise.

Two weeks later, armed militiamen occupied the statehouse in Lansing. At least two of the Wolverines participated. I kept wondering what would happen if some fool pulled the trigger. No way and no how should such conduct be legal. The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

Trump urged surrender: "The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire," he wrote. "These are very good people, but they are angry."

Down in the basement, meanwhile, Wolverine chieftain Adam Fox vented: "Everything's gonna have to be annihilated, man. We're gonna topple it all, dude. It's what great frickin' conquerors, man, we're just gonna conquer every fuckin' thing, man."

Evidently, Fox's girlfriend had left him. I can't imagine why.

Then after Gov. Whitmer chided Boss Trump for his refusal to condemn right-wing extremists and white supremacists, he complained that she hadn't thanked him for protecting her. Trump cited "My Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement" quite as if he'd played some role in the bust, which he surely did not.

The thing is, all the guns, camouflage fatigues and subterranean hideouts in the world can't give these bearded children what they need—decent jobs and good women to help them keep their heads on straight.

The Dismal Losers Behind That Whitmer Kidnap Plot

After his girlfriend booted him out of her place, Adam Fox found refuge in a storage space under a vacuum shop. There, he reportedly lived with an emotional support dog and smoked pot.

Fox and six other men belonging to a militia group they call the Wolverine Watchmen were arrested for their alleged role in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and try her for treason. Set aside for the moment the group's ludicrous though dangerous plan. Note instead the social and economic dysfunction that membership in extremist groups seeks to cover. Look at these loners who can't hold a job, sustain an intimate relationship, or get along with the neighbors.

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Extremist Michigan Sheriff Defends Alleged Kidnap Plotters

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Barry County, Michigan, Sheriff Dar Leaf defended the actions of men accused of an alleged terrorist kidnapping plot against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in an interview that went viral on Twitter with Fox 17's Aaron Parseghian.

Leaf acknowledged he knows two of the men, Michael and William Null, residents of Barry County, who are facing charges due to their alleged involvement. Leaf described the men as "nice and respectful" and downplayed the kidnapping charges, saying that it's possible the men were justified in their actions: "A lot of people are angry with the governor and they want her arrested, so are they trying to arrest or was it a kidnap attempt, because you can still in Michigan … make a felony arrest."

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