FBI charges nine with sedition in raids on Michigan militia group

Gautham Nagesh Contributor
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The FBI arrested eight members of the Michigan militia group Hutaree this weekend on charges they planned to levy war against the government. The eight men and one woman were charged after several raids this weekend and charged with a range of crimes including seditious conspiracy, teaching/demonstrating the use of explosive materials and attempts to use weapons of mass destruction. Update: One defendant, Joshua Stone, is currently a fugitive.

According to the indictment released Monday morning by the U.S. District Court, the nine individuals were part of an “anti-government extremist organization which advocates violence against local, state and federal law enforcement”:

“The Hutaree’s enemies include state and local law enforcement, who are deemed foot-soldiers of the federal government, federal law enforcement agencies and employees, participants in the ‘New World Order,’ and anyone who does not share Hutaree’s beliefs.

Since at least 2008, the Hutaree has been meeting regularly to conduct military-style training in Lenawee County, located in the Easter District of Michigan and elsewhere. The purpose of this training has been to plan and prepare for the impending war with Hutaree’s enemies.”

The prosecutor also alleges the group “did knowingly conspire, confederate and agree with each other and other persons known and unknown to the grand jury, to levy war against the United States, to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States and to prevent, hinder and delay by force the execution of any United States law.” The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.

Update: The FBI posted the following on the web site of its Detroit bureau:

According to the indictment, in June 2009, David Brian Stone and his other son, David Brian Stone, Jr., taught other Hutaree members how to make and use explosive devices intending or knowing that the information would be used to further a crime of violence. In addition, the grand jury charged all nine defendants with carrying or possessing a firearm during a crime of violence on at least one occasion.

As of this morning, eight of the nine defendants are in custody and seven of them will be making their initial appearance before United States Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer at 10 am. Joshua Stone is currently a fugitive. Any person with information as to the whereabouts of this individual should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (313) 965-2323.

“Because the Hutaree had planned a covert reconnaissance operation for April which had the potential of placing an unsuspecting member of the public at risk, the safety of the public and of the law enforcement community demanded intervention at this time,” said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

“This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society. The FBI takes such extremist groups seriously, especially those who would target innocent citizens and the law enforcement officers who protect the citizens of the United States,” said Andrew Arena, FBI Special Agent in Charge.

The charges of seditious conspiracy and teaching the use of explosive materials carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while attempted use of a WMD could mean life in prison. The charge for possessing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence carries a minimum of five years in prison.

The Hutaree’s Web site indicates that the name means “Christian Warrior” and offers the following explanation of the group’s philosophy:

As Christians we all are a part of the Souls of the Body of Christ, the one true church of Christ. Not any specific man made building or any man controlled organization. This is the belief of the Hutaree soldier, as should the belief of all followers in Christ be.

We believe that one day, as prophecy says, there will be an Anti-Christ. All Christians must know this and prepare, just as Christ commanded … This clearly states the reason for the training and preparation of the Hutaree.

Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment. The only thing on earth to save the testimony and those who follow it, are the members of the testimony, til the return of Christ in the clouds. We, the Hutaree, are prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren’t. We will still spread the word, and fight to keep it, up to the time of the great coming.

Michigan has a long tradition of organized militias and the state’s constitution even includes a clause requiring the state to maintain a separate militia independent of the federal government, according to independent congressional candidate Scott Aughney. The 44-year-old Aughney who is running in the nearby 7th District as a member of the conservative U.S. Taxpayer Party of Michigan (the state’s affiliate of the Constitution party), said he is not acquainted with Hutaree specifically but he didn’t believe the group has violated the law.

“I don’t think they’ve done anything illegal from looking at their web site,” Aughney said, adding that he couldn’t comment on any pending investigations. “But considering the timing, it paints Christian patriots in a negative light … I’ll be honest, I’ve been to a couple militia camps. Nothing they’d doing is illegal or unconstitutional.”

Aughney said he believes the raids are part of a coordinated plan by the Obama administration to silence opposition to the recently passed health-care bill.

“I do think it was a message being sent to Christian patriots or anyone that opposes unconstitutional socialist legislation,” Aughney said. “One of the tenets of socialism is to dissuade or minimize any dissent to socialist policies.”

However, the indictment alleges the group was planning to commit violence to prompt a response from law enforcement, including possibly “killing a member of law enforcement and then attacking the funeral procession motorcade with weapons of mass destruction.”

“These acts would intimidate and demoralize law enforcement diminishing their ranks and rendering them ineffective.”

Following that act, the indictment alleges the group would retreat to one of several “rally points” where they would begin waging guerrilla war against the government. Their defenses would include Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Here are the names of all nine individuals indicted today. More may be revealed in the coming days:

  • David Brian Stone, 45, of Clayton and the group’s alleged leader
  • Tina Stone, 44, of Clayton
  • Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton
  • David Brian Stone, Jr., 19, of Adrian
  • Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield
  • Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester
  • Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.
  • Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio
  • Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio

The indictment also describes at length the military-style training undergone by group members. Below is a training video taken directly from the Hutaree’s Web site:

For more on this story, here is the Associated Press story