In the US state of Michigan, suspected extremists had planned to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer – they apparently wanted to start a civil war.
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Investigators have foiled plans in the US state of Michigan for a plot against the local government and the kidnapping of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Authorities announced a total of 13 arrests on Thursday. Six men are facing federal charges on various charges. At the same time, the Michigan Justice Department is pursuing charges against seven other defendants. The ministry accuses them of wanting to start a civil war in order to bring about a “social collapse”. Democrat Whitmer suggested that suspected extremists such as those accused by US President Donald Trump might be motivated.
Suspects also apparently wanted to detonate bombs
According to the FBI, at least six of those arrested have planned Whitmer’s kidnapping ahead of the U.S. election on Nov. 3 at the latest since the summer, according to a court document describing the FBI investigators. In late July, one of the suspects said that Whitmer was best kidnapped upon arrival or when leaving her private vacation home or the governor’s summer residence.
The group observed the holiday home in August and September. Apparently, she was considering detonating a bomb under a nearby bridge to prevent police from intervening during the kidnapping, the investigators continued.
Tip to the FBI came from social networks
“I knew this was going to be a tough job,” Whitmer said Thursday. “But to be honest, I could never have imagined something like this.” The plans were discovered with the help of informers, undercover agents and secret recordings of conversations, prosecutor Andrew Birge said at a news conference. He described the suspects as “violent extremists”. If convicted, they face life in prison. The arrests took place on Wednesday evening.
Earlier this year, the FBI had learned on social networks that a group of people – including two of those arrested – had spoken of the “violent overthrow of certain sections of government and law enforcement.” To get support for their efforts, one of the suspects approached a militia in Michigan.
Governor to be tried for “treason”
In a phone call in mid-June, one of the suspects said he would need 200 men to storm the Capitol in the capital, Lansing, and take hostages, including the governor, who will be tried for “treason.” The same suspect is said to have said during an observation of the governor’s vacation home in September, “She fucking loves the power she has.” Whitmer has “uncontrolled power.”
According to Secretary Dana Nessel, the seven men against whom the Justice Department is trying to prosecute were said to have had members of the militia named Wolverine Watchmen or had links to her. They are accused of seeking addresses of police officers to attack them and spark civil war.
They were also involved in planning and training for an attack on the Capitol in Lansing, Nessel explained. The plans would have endangered the lives of police officers, government officials and the general public.
Trump criticized Whitmer for her corona measures
Whitmer is a rising figure in the Democratic Party. During the Corona crisis, she imposed strict exit restrictions, which earned her much praise, but also harsh criticism, including from US President Trump. Protesters marched outside the Capitol for several weeks at a time, accusing Whitmer of “tyranny.”
Trump expressed support for the partially armed protesters and understanding that they wanted their lives back. “These are very good people, but they are angry,” Trump said.
Armed protesters broke into the building during a May 1 protest. Michigan is one of the US states where individuals can openly carry firearms. Exceptions are certain places such as banks, places of worship, courts, hospitals or shops that sell alcohol – but not the parliament building. Investigators were unable to link the inmates’ efforts to the Spring Lansing incident.
Whitmer: Trump did not distance himself from right-wing extremists
Whitmer accused Trump of stirring up anger in the corona crisis. “This should be a moment of national unity. Instead, for the past seven months, our head of state has denied science, ignored his own health experts, aroused mistrust, fueled anger, and comforted those who spread fear and hatred and division,” she said Thursday. The published document does not indicate that the alleged extremists felt inspired by Trump.
Whitmer recalled that Trump refused to unequivocally condemn right-wing extremists and hate groups in the TV duel against his Democratic challenger Joe Biden last week. “When our leaders speak, their words have meaning, they have weight,” she said.
According to the New York Times, Attorney General Nessel made a similar statement: Leading politicians should weaken these “very dangerous messages” to people who are said to commit such acts of violence, she said.
Trump then tweeted that Whitmer was making allegations against him rather than thanking the government security forces for foiling the kidnapping. Trump’s adviser Jason Miller said earlier, “When we talk about hate, look in the mirror, Governor Whitmer.” She wakes up every day with “hatred in her heart” for Trump.