29 Nov 2010

Radical Christian extremists indicted on conspiracy and weapons charges

CNN - March 30, 2010

'Christian warrior' militia accused in plot to kill police

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- Nine people federal prosecutors say belong to a "Christian warrior" militia were accused Monday of plotting to kill a Michigan law enforcement officer and then attack other police at the funeral.

Six Michigan residents, two residents of Ohio and an Indiana resident were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan, on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade and FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena announced.

All but one of the suspects -- Joshua Matthew Stone, the 21-year-old son of the militia's leader -- were in custody by Monday morning and seven of them made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer, prosecutors said.

Joshua Stone was arrested late Monday after he walked out of a mobile home in southern Michigan's Hillsdale County and surrendered without incident, FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold told CNN. Five other adults and a child were also at the home, she said.

"We were negotiating with him all days from a staging location near a church," Berchtold said, adding that authorities used a loudspeaker to draw Stone out.

Stone, who will be arraigned Tuesday morning, is the son of David Brian Stone -- leader of what prosecutors say is a Lenawee County "Christian warrior" militia group called the Hutaree.

Read the indictment (PDF)

The five-count indictment unsealed Monday charges that between August 2008 and the present, the defendants, acting as a Lenawee County, Michigan, militia group, conspired to use force to oppose the authority of the U.S. government.

Attorney General Eric Holder called it "an insidious plan by anti-government extremists."

The group says on its Web site that Hutaree means "Christian warrior" and proclaims on its home page, "Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive."

In the "About Us" section of the Hutaree Web site, the group says, "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."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that monitors hate groups and other fringe organizations, lists the Hutaree as a "Patriot" group militia.

"Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the 'New World Order,' engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing or advocate or adhere to extreme anti-government doctrines," the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a report, "Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism."

The Law Center also defines Patriot groups as "militias and other organizations that see the federal government as part of a plot to impose 'one-world government' on liberty-loving Americans."

Mention of the Hutaree comes in the Law Center's list: "Active 'Patriot' Groups in the United States in 2009."

The suspects were identified as militia leader David Brian Stone, 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; his son, Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton, Michigan; another son, David Brian Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian, Michigan; Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Michigan; Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Michigan; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Indiana; Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.

A bond hearing was set for 1 p.m. Wednesday.

A court-appointed counsel will be assigned to the seven suspects who were in court Monday because none of them had lawyers.

According to the indictment, Hutaree members view local, state and federal law enforcement authorities as the enemy and have been preparing to engage them in armed conflict.

The indictment alleges that the Hutaree planned to kill an unidentified law enforcement officer in Michigan and then attack officers and others who would gather for the funeral. According to the plan, the indictment says, the Hutaree wanted to use improvised explosive devices to attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession. The indictment says those explosive devices, commonly called IEDs, constitute weapons of mass destruction.

Subsequently, the indictment says, Hutaree leader David Brian Stone obtained information about IEDs over the Internet and e-mailed diagrams to a person he believed could manufacture them. He then had one of his sons, Joshua Matthew Stone, and others gather materials necessary to manufacture IEDs, the indictment alleges.

According to the indictment, David Brian Stone and David Brian Stone Jr. taught other Hutaree members in June how to make and use explosive devices.

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.

"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," U.S. Attorney McQuade said.

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AnnArbor.com - Associated Press March 30, 2010

Hutaree is a 'cult,' says Eastern Michigan University militia expert

By: David Jesse | AnnArbor.com Staff Unfollow Follow

When local militia expert Jack Kay first ran across a MySpace page for Lenawee County-based Hutaree six months ago, he thought it was just another militia group wrapping itself in God and country.

On Monday afternoon, following weekend raids by federal authorities in three states, Kay said the group went beyond that initial assessment. Kay, the provost and executive vice-president of academic affairs at Eastern Michigan University, has done extensive research on militias.

“Everything I’ve read about them and on their website establish to me that they are a cult,” he said. “They are true believers. They feel they are on a divine mission. They are willing to be martyrs. It goes beyond patriotism and gets into groupthink.

“They believe everything is a conspiracy. They create their own fictional future. It’s just not logical to think you’re going to wake up someday and overthrow the government.”

Even members of other militias describe Hutaree as a cult.

"You have an older religious leader with several young followers who obey his every command,” said Michael Lackomar, a spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, which was not targeted in the raids. His unit has trained with Hutaree in the past.

Nine Hutaree members are charged with planning to kill an unnamed local law enforcement officer and then attacking the resulting funeral procession, targeting law enforcement vehicles with improvised explosive devices.

“There are a lot of groups that use the rhetoric that this group uses,” Kay said. “Their plans, if what is in the indictment is true, go well beyond that. If what’s in the indictment is true, this would be among the most extreme groups out there.”

On its website, the group uses heavy doses of Bible to justify its actions and claims members are getting ready to battle the Anti-Christ.

The group wrote, “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.”

Donna Stone said her ex-husband, David Stone, the accused leader of the group, pulled her son David Jr. into the movement. Another of Stone's sons, Joshua Stone, also was charged.

"It started out as a Christian thing," Donna Stone said. "You go to church. You pray. You take care of your family. I think David started to take it a little too far."

The wife of one of the defendants described Hutaree as a small group of patriotic, Christian buddies who were just doing survival training.

"It consisted of a dad and two of his sons and I think just a couple other close friends of theirs," said Kelly Sickles, who husband, Kristopher, was among those charged. "It was supposed to be a Christian group. Christ-like, right, so why would you think that's something wrong with that, right?"

Sickles said she came home Saturday night to find her house in Sandusky, Ohio, in disarray. Agents seized the guns her husband collected as a hobby and searched for bomb-making materials, she said, but added: "He doesn't even know how to make a bomb. We had no bomb material here."

Sickles said she couldn't believe her 27-year-old husband could be involved in anything violent.

"It was just survival skills," she said. "That's what they were learning. And it's just patriotism. It's in our Constitution."

The overall militia movement has exploded across the country recently, driven in large numbers by the election of Obama as president.

About 50 militia members from five units live in Washtenaw County, militia leaders told AnnArbor.com. Most are survivalists who favor larger local government and a smaller federal government. Members are fiercely protective of their free speech and gun rights.

The Hutaree claim between 25 and 30 members, and say at least one lives in Scio Township and at least three live in Manchester Township. One of the those arrested, Michael Meeks, is from Manchester Township.

“Members tend to be very committed,” Kay said. “These group tend to like to have smaller groups, almost like splinter cells where they are very close and many are members of the same family.”

Kay said the leadership in militia groups tends to be “sophisticated” about communication and recruitment, and often target those who are “downtrodden.”

Followers tend be those “who have had something taken away from them by some authority, either the government, or a bank, or someone.”

Lee Higgins of AnnArbor.com and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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WXYZ ABC News - Detroit

A Look Inside the Hutaree

Reported by: Heather Catallo

(WXYZ) Federal prosecutors say the Hutaree had a covert operation in the works for next month – which is why they conducted the raids this weekend. Action News Investigator Heather Catallo has more details about this Christian militant group.

Experts say they’ve been monitoring the Hutaree on the internet, and tonight they’re calling them one of the most radical and dangerous groups they’ve seen in a long time.

The Hutaree call themselves Christian Warriors, and according to their website, their members believe that Christ is their “top general.” Videos on their website show them training like a militia, burning the United Nations Flag, and paying tribute to the “Patriot Weapon of Choice.”

Federal prosecutors describe the Lenawee County based Hutaree as an anti-government extremist organization which advocates violence against all levels of law enforcement.
According to this indictment, 9 members of the group are charged with seditious conspiracy, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, and using firearms for crimes of violence.

So who are these gun-toting Christian Warriors who say they are preparing for the Anti-Christ?

The Michigan Militia spokesman says the Hutaree are not part of their organization – but rather a cult-like group of religious fanatics.

Mike Lackomar/Michigan-Militia.com: They believe that this is the end of the world, as prophesized by the Bible, and it’s their duty to take up arms to fight alongside Jesus against the impending forces of Satan.

Federal prosecutors say the group was led by 45-year-old David Brian Stone, also known as Captain Hutaree and “RD.” RD apparently stands for Radok – the highest rank – and an example of their own code language.

From his property in Clayton, Michigan, federal agents say Stone along with his wife Tina and his two sons--David Stone, Jr. and Joshua--were planning to kill a local law enforcement member. The indictment alleges the Hutaree would use that murder to attack the police funeral procession and spur an uprising of militia groups around the country.

Jack Kay/EMU Prof. of Communications: This is going to be one of the most radical groups. They are a group that has really professed a great deal of violence, and have really done the planning that’s necessary for that violence.

Eastern Michigan University Provost Jack Kay has studied extremist groups for 25 years, and once infiltrated the North Idaho Aryan Nation compound undercover. Kay started monitoring Hutaree on the web several months ago, and he’s not surprised that Stone has involved several of his family members.

Jack Kay: It becomes part of the entire culture, and cult in those types of groups…. The notion that one could take a stand against the US and win is a ludicrous stand in terms of a small group like this, but by creating their own fiction, and talking themselves up, and becoming a family, and bringing others into the family, that’s really how these groups operate and sustain themselves.

Not very much is known about the leader of the Hutaree – but my sources are telling me that David Brian Stone did not seem to have a job, and that he basically lived off the land in Clayton.

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Southern Poverty Law Center - March 29, 2010

Nine Members of the Hutaree Militia Indicted in Plans for ‘Armed Conflict’

by Heidi Beirich

Nine members of the Hutaree Militia were indicted today in what federal authorities are describing as a plot to murder a law enforcement officer in Michigan and then attack other officials who gathered for the funeral. The five-count indictment followed a series of raids in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana over the weekend.

The Hutaree Militia first came to the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 2009, when researchers found the group’s MySpace page. Two chapters of the militia, one in Michigan and one in Utah, were included on the SPLC’s list of militia groups released earlier this month. The Utah chapter held at least one training in 2009.

The Hutaree Militia had close links to several other American militias, according to the group’s MySpace profile. The profile, which carried the slogan “violence solves everything,” shows that the group has 366 “friends.” The militia’s page was linked to dozens of other militias, including the Ohio Militia, the Michigan Militia Corps, the Kentucky State Militia, the Central Texas Militia and others. The indictment alleges that in February “several of the conspirators attempted to travel to Kentucky to attend a summit of militia groups.”

The indictment charges the defendants with seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.

The government alleges that members of the antigovernment Hutaree Militia, which is based in eastern Michigan’s Lenawee County and has been conducting “military-style training” there since 2008, conspired to “levy war against the United States.” According to the indictment, Hutaree members view local, state and federal law enforcement as an enemy “brotherhood” that they were preparing to engage in armed conflict.

Authorities said the Hutaree planned to kill an unidentified, local law enforcement official, then attack the funeral with improvised explosive devices and “explosively formed projectiles,” which, according to the indictment, constitute weapons of mass destruction.

The indictment by a grand jury in Detroit covered charges that took place between August 2008 and today. The defendants are David Brian Stone, 45, and 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 arrested in Michigan and indicted were Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield and Michael Meeks, 40 of Manchester. In Indiana, Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting was arrested. In Ohio, Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron were arrested.

The arrests again show the growing danger from America’s radical right, where a pervasive rage against the government has become red hot. In a report released in March, “Rage on the Right,” the SPLC documented 512 antigovernment “Patriot” groups, which include armed militias, operating by the end of 2009. That represents a 244 percent increase over the previous year’s count of 149. The number of militia groups rose from 42 in 2008 to 127 in 2009.

The SPLC documented a total of 75 domestic terrorism plots between the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and 2009. The majority of those plots were concocted by individuals with extreme antigovernment views.

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