Michigan, Oct 9 (IANS) The FBI said it has thwarted a plot to abduct and overthrow Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Whitmer has become a target of coronavirus sceptics after enacting strict mitigation measures that were overturned by a judge last week.
Officials said the kidnapping plot involved six men who planned to hold a “treason trial” for her, the BBC reported on Thursday.
“Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place” in Michigan, Whitmer said, describing the accused as “depraved”.
According to a sworn FBI affidavit, an undercover law enforcement source attended a June meeting in Dublin, Ohio, where a group of Michigan-based militia members discussed overthrowing state governments “that they believed were violating the US Constitution”.
“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” the charging document states. In one video, a suspect denounced the state’s role in deciding when to reopen gyms during the coronavirus lockdown.
Thirteen people were arrested by investigators.
Six men – five from Michigan and one from Delaware – are accused in federal court of plotting the kidnap. They allegedly planned to hold a “treason trial” against Whitmer.
These six were named as Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Casert and Ty Garbin. Garbin’s residence, in a trailer park, was raided by authorities on Wednesday.
The other seven face charges of terrorism and gang-related offences in state court in connection with the alleged abduction plot.
The group wished to gather about “200 men” to storm the capitol building and take hostages, including the governor. They hoped to enact their plan before the November presidential election. If that failed, they planned to attack the governor at her home, officials said.
The accused “co-ordinated surveillance of the governors’ vacation home”, said the US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, adding that they also planned Molotov cocktail attacks on police officers, purchased a taser, and pooled their funds to purchase explosives and tactical equipment.