(March 29) -- Nine alleged members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit in an alleged 17-month plot to attack and kill local, state and federal law enforcement officials.
On the heels of weekend raids in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, the FBI unsealed an indictment today revealing charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and teaching the use of explosive materials. The charges were filed against nine alleged members of the Hutaree militia, which writes on its Web site that it is preparing for battle with the anti-Christ.
The indictment also charges all the defendants with carrying a firearm during a violent crime on at least one separate occasion.
According to the FBI and the Michigan U.S. attorney's office, the defendants planned to "kill an unidentified member of local law enforcement and then attack the law enforcement officers who gather in Michigan for the funeral," using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are considered weapons of mass destruction.
The indictment said the plan, allegedly hatched in August 2008, was to take place next month.
"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.
The defendants include a family of four: David Brian Stone, 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton, Mich.; and his other son, David Brian Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian, Mich.
Also charged in the five-count indictment were Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Mich.; Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Mich.; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.; Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.
If convicted, the nine could get maximum sentences of life in prison.
The indictment said David Brian Stone, the Hutaree leader, gathered information about IEDs on the Internet before recruiting his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, among others, to help him gather materials to manufacture the devices. In June 2008, Stone's other son, David Brian Stone Jr., allegedly helped his father teach Hutaree members how to build the devices with the goal of using them to carry out a "crime of violence."
"This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups, which can be found throughout our society," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena. "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."
Eight of the nine defendants were in custody today. Joshua Stone is currently a fugitive.
The arrests followed FBI raids that targeted the Hutaree in Adrian, Mich., where the group trains members to use modern military techniques to prepare for the battle with the anti-Christ.
"Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment," Hutaree.com reads. "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."
Michael Lackomar, a spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, a citizen militia group that denies any illegal activity, told The Associated Press that a leader of his group declined a call for assistance from a Hutaree member during a Saturday evening raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"They said they were under attack by the ATF and wanted a place to hide," Lackomar said. "My team leader said, 'No thanks.'"
In a post on the Web site Michiganmilitia.com, Lackomar condemns attacks against elected representatives and denies any affiliation with the Hutaree.
"They are a religious cult," Lackomar writes. "They are not part of our militia community."
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