By a Biometrica staffer
Six men were arrested and charged federally with conspiring to kidnap the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, the US Department of Justice said in a statement. They planned to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home in the Western District of Michigan according to the complaint.
Of the six, five – Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta – are residents of Michigan while Barry Croft is a Delaware resident. Under federal law, each faces any term of years up to life in prison if convicted.
“All of us can disagree about politics, but those disagreements should never, ever result in violence. The allegations in this complaint are deeply disturbing. We owe our thanks to the men and women of law enforcement who uncovered this plot and have worked so hard to protect Governor Whitmer,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.
The FBI began an investigation earlier this year after becoming aware through social media that a group of individuals was discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components, according to the federal complaint in this case. Through confidential sources, undercover agents, and clandestine recordings, law enforcement learned that particular individuals were planning to kidnap the Governor and acting in furtherance of that plan.
This group used operational security measures, including communicating by encrypted messaging platforms and used code words and phrases to avoid detection. On two occasions, members of the alleged conspiracy conducted coordinated surveillance on the Governor’s vacation home. Fox and Croft discussed detonating explosive devices to divert police from the area of the vacation home and Fox even inspected the underside of an M-31 highway bridge for places to seat an explosive.
Fox also purchased a taser for use in the kidnapping and the group even successfully detonated an improvised explosive device wrapped with shrapnel to test its anti-personnel capabilities, the complaint further alleges. The FBI and Michigan State Police executed arrests as multiple conspirators met to pool funds for explosives and exchange tactical gear.
“These alleged extremists undertook a plot to kidnap a sitting governor. Whenever extremists move into the realm of actually planning violent acts, the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force stands ready to identify, disrupt and dismantle their operations, preventing them from following through on those plans,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Josh P. Hauxhurst.
The investigation is ongoing. Agents of the Detroit Field Office of the FBI and other members of their Joint Terrorism Task Force, including the Michigan State Police, are conducting the investigation. FBI Agents and JTTF members in the Baltimore Field Office of the FBI, which covers Delaware, are also involved. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan is prosecuting the federal charges. U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Eastern District of Michigan and Delaware have assisted.
Based on information developed in the investigation, State of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced the simultaneous arrest of seven other individuals on state charges of providing material support of terroristic activities and of possessing a firearm in the course of that offense.