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Monday, March 29, 2010

'Christian warrior' militia accused in plot to kill police

(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.

A federal grand jury in Detroit, Michigan, indicted six Michigan residents, two Ohioans and an Indiana resident 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 Andrew Arena, FBI special agent in charge, announced.

The five-count indictment unsealed Monday charges that since August 2008, the defendants, acting as a Lenawee County, Michigan, militia group called the Hutaree, conspired to oppose by force 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 Web site's "About Us" section, 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, an Alabama-based 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."

The suspects were identified as David Brian Stone, 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; his son Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton, Michigan; and 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.

Eight of the nine defendants are in custody, and seven made their initial appearance Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer, prosecutors said. Joshua Stone is a fugitive, according to prosecutors.

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

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

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 the Hutaree group planned to kill an unidentified law enforcement officer in Michigan and then attack officers who would gather for the funeral.

According to the plan, the indictment said, the Hutaree wanted to use improvised explosive devices to attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession. The indictment said those explosive devices, commonly called IEDs, constitute weapons of mass destruction.

Subsequently, the indictment said, 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 his 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," McQuade said.


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