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Yet Another Warning from Michigan: FBI Busted Plot to Kidnap “That Woman”

As you’ve probably heard by now, the FBI foiled a plot to kidnap Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The conspirators intended to move her across state lines to Wisconsin where she would be tried by a kangaroo court for “treason.”

Timing of the plot and events which may have inspired this idiocy:

10-MAR-2020 — Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-4, declaring a state of emergency in Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

13-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-5 canceling all events and assemblies over 250 people, ending on Sunday, April 5 at 5 p.m. Michigan’s public schools and churches were closed with this order.

16-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-9, closing places of public accommodation including restaurants, bars, gymnasiums, theaters through March 30.

20-MAR-2020 — Militia group in Michigan brought to attention of FBI when group sought addresses of local law enforcement. A Confidential Human Sources (CHS) was identified during FBI interview with a concerned militia member.

23-MAR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order 2020-21, directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life, effective immediately.

27-MAR-2020 — During a press conference discussing Pence’s work as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Trump tells VP Pence, “Don’t call the woman in Michigan.”

01-APR-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-33 expanding Executive Order 2020-4, declaring both a state of emergency and a state of disaster across the state of Michigan.

07-APR-2020 — Michigan legislature adopted a concurrent resolution to extend the states of emergency and disaster declared under the Emergency Management Act until April 30, 2020.

09-APR-2020 — First extension of Stay-Home order until May 1 due to rising COVID cases.

15-APR-2020 — Drive-in “Operation Gridlock” Protest in capital city Lansing, violating Stay-Home order; organizer received financial assistance from DeVos family.

17-APR-2020 — Trump tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!

24-APR-2020 — Second extension of Stay-Home order until May 15 due to increased COVID cases. Some restrictions were lifted on outdoor businesses. Masks ordered for all residents in public spaces.

30-APR-2020 — Armed protest in state capitol building

06-MAY-2020 — GOP-majority state house and state senate file suit against Gov. Whitmer (Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate v. Whitmer)

08-MAY-2020 — Third extension of Stay-Home order until May 28. Some restrictions lifted on manufacturing as of 11-MAY-2020 as part of a phased re-opening.

21-MAY-2020 — Michigan Court of Claims ruled in favor of Gov. Whitmer in Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate v. Whitmer; the state of emergency would continue without legislative approval.

22-MAY-2020 — Fourth extension of Stay-Home order until June 12. State of emergency also extended to June 19. Two northern Michigan regions were able to reopen, allowing restaurants and bars to operate at 50% capacity. Groups of 10 were permitted across the state.

01-JUN-2020 — Stay-Home order lifted with restrictions, ex. groups of 100 outdoors, outdoor fitness classes, etc.

06-JUN-2020 — Meeting of ~15 co-conspirators in Dublin, Ohio.

08-JUN-2020 — Restaurants allowed to reopen and operate across the state at 50% capacity with other mandatory changes like masks and social distancing.

08-JUN-2020 — On reopening, Harper’s brewpub restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan, violated several of the remaining emergency restrictions. Over the next month at least 185 cases of COVID will have been traced back to this facility’s reopening.

14-JUN-2020 — A key co-conspirator and a militia group member meet at a militia field training exercise.

15-JUN-2020 — Stay-Home order ends. Some restrictions remain on events and assemblies as well as public accommodation facilities.

18-JUN-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-127, again finding that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a disaster and emergency throughout the State of Michigan.

18-JUN-2020 — Co-conspirators met with militia group leadership at the Second Amendment rally at the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan.

20-JUN-2020 — Several co-conspirators met at a co-conspirator’s business in Grand Rapids for planning.

25-JUN-2020 — Key co-conspirator streams a rant about Gov. Whitmer to a private Facebook group.

28-JUN-2020 — Several co-conspirators met in Munith, Michigan for a tactical training
exercise.

04-06-JUL-2020 — Holiday weekend partying results in uptick of COVID cases.

10-12-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators attended a field training exercise in Cambria, Wisconsin which included attempting to make IEDs with balloons, BBs, and black powder.

13-JUL-2020 — Gov. Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-147, mandating the wearing of masks to contain spread of COVID-19.

18-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators met in Ohio, discussed attacking Michigan State Police and shooting up Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home in western lower Michigan.

27-JUL-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed plan to kidnap Gov. Whitmer at vacation home, transport her to Wisconsin, and prosecute her.

09-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed obtaining intelligence about Gov. Whitmer’s Lansing home as well as attacking her at that site.

18-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed surveillance of Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home and getaway plans.

23-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discussed surveillance while meeting in Lake Orion, Michigan.

29-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirator and CH-2 surveil Gov. Whitmer’s vacation home.

30-AUG-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss findings of surveillance.

12-13-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators meet in Luther, Michigan for field training exercise and practice making and using IEDs as well as tighten planning and coordination.

14-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss executing plan in late October, well before Election Day.

30-SEP-2020 — Co-conspirators discuss acquiring taser for plan.

02-OCT-2020 — Key co-conspirator confirms acquisition of taser.

06-OCT-2020 — In a 4-3 ruling along partisan lines, Michigan Supreme Court determined Gov. Whitmer did not have the authority to issue COVID-related executive orders after April 30, 2020.

07-OCT-2020 — Co-conspirators planned to meet to make payments on equipment.

07-OCT-2020 — Co-conspirator Garbin’s house was raided.

09-OCT-2020 — Arrest of ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ conspirators announced, complaint published.

I use word inspired loosely, because there doesn’t seem to be a direct link between the most aggressive emergency action and the inception and progress of this seditious terror plot. The emergency Stay-Home order was lifted the week the conspirators began planning; what restrictions remained clearly did not stop these men from traveling, meeting, organizing, and planning.

They also didn’t have a legitimate beef about the effectiveness of the governor’s actions, any more so than the polarized and irrational MIGOP-controlled state legislature. Eleventh largest by population, Michigan was hit hard early in the pandemic, now ranking 10th in overall COVID-19 deaths. But since Whitmer declared the state of emergency and enacted the Stay-Home order along with a phased reopening process, the state’s daily death toll has plummeted and its cases per million is now 40th in the country.

You’ll recall from posts I wrote about the protests opposing Whitmer’s orders back in April that the protests cause spikes in active confirmed cases beginning 5-10 days after the protests. They’re visible here in these charts.

The plot wasn’t about Whitmer’s handling of COVID-19.

One only needs to look and listen to the language the conspirators used about Gov. Whitmer to know that this was about hate for a woman with the authority to give orders with regard to a deadly pandemic.

Tyranny to this baker’s dozen of white men was about a democratically-elected woman in a position of legitimate authority telling them what to do.

Trump set the tone for this by refusing to help Whitmer when she asked for federal assistance, by refusing to allow Pence as COVID-19 Task Force chair to listen to Whitmer, and by tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” after the first protest against Whitmer’s orders.

His tweets yesterday attacking Whitmer again even after the arrests of kidnapping conspirators only reinforce the real intent of Trump and seditious domestic terrorists alike.

What will Trump’s tweets spawn next as we head into a second wave of COVID-19, this time with Michigan’s governor disempowered by Republicans on the state supreme court?

Terrorist Training Camp Busted in Central Florida

Osceola County mugshot of Marcus Faella

In a series of arrests that began over the weekend, authorities in Central Florida have now arrested ten individuals tied to the racist skinhead organization American Front. Initial arrests included two on Friday and five more on Sunday. While the first two arrested have already been released on bail, there were three more arrests announced this morning.

From the AP report in the Miami Herald:

Seven people with ties to what Florida law enforcement officials called a white supremacist and known domestic terrorist organization were arrested this past weekend on felony conspiracy and hate crime charges in a FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force operation.

Authorities arrested 39-year-old Marcus Faella, and wife 36-year-old Patricia Faella, on Friday, along with 29-year-old Mark McGowan and his wife 25-year-old Jennifer McGowan. Others arrested and taken to Osceola County Jail were 28-year-old Diane Stevens, 25-year-old Paul Jackson and 22-year-old Kent McLellan.

Each was charged with paramilitary training, attempt to shoot into an occupied dwelling and evidence of prejudices while committing offense, a first-degree felony.

It is a felony in Florida to participate in paramilitary training for use “in furtherance of, a civil disorder within the United States.” The “prejudices” charge falls under Florida’s hate crimes law.

Florida Ninth Circuit State Attorney Lawson Lamar said in a statement that his office will review the investigation and “will file the appropriate criminal charges.”

The article goes on to identify those arrested as belonging to the hate group American Front. A partially outdated description of the group can be found here on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website. The ADL’s concise description of the group:

The American Front is a racist skinhead group that is active in several states around the country. The group espouses an anti-Semitic, white supremacist ideology and disseminates its message in public events that demonize Jews, immigrants, and other minorities. Before the current leader took the helm of the group in 2002, American Front was unusual in that it espoused “Third Positionist” beliefs, a peculiar blend of right-wing extremism that rejects both capitalism and communism in favor of an ill-defined “third way.”

Although American Front is not particularly large, it is one of the oldest continuously active racist skinhead groups in the United States. However, few original members are still with the group; most of the current membership is new. American Front has a legacy of criminal activity that ranges from brutal hate crimes to acts of terrorism.

We learn more about the group in the SPLC’s blog post on the initial arrests: Read more

Crackers and Castor Beans: FBI Busts Wannabe Ricin WMD “Terrorists” in Georgia

Almost as if in response to Marcy’s noting less than two weeks ago that at least in Detroit the FBI overlooks white terrorists when profiling, the FBI yesterday announced the arrests of four individuals in Georgia accused of planning attacks using explosives, a silencer and the biological agent ricin:

Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga.; Dan Roberts, 67, of Toccoa, Ga.; Ray H. Adams, 65, of Toccoa; and Samuel J. Crump, 68, of Toccoa, were arrested today relating to plans to obtain an unregistered explosive device and silencer and to manufacture the biological toxin ricin for use in attacks against other U.S. citizens and government personnel and officials.

The “attack” planned with ricin is laughable on its face:

The complaints charge that during the investigation of Thomas and Roberts, Roberts described another individual named “Sammy” who, according to Roberts, had manufactured the biological toxin, ricin, and had access to the beans used to make ricin. During one of the group’s meetings in September, which was recorded by the confidential source, Crump arrived and said that he would like to make 10 pounds of ricin and disperse it in various United States cities, including Atlanta. Crump described a scenario for dispersing the ricin in Atlanta in which the toxin would be blown from a car traveling on the interstates. Crump allegedly also said that he possessed the ingredient used to make the toxin and cautioned the source about the dangers of handling it.

Ricin is indeed highly toxic and can be deadly in very small amounts.  However, the prospect of delivering a lethal dose of the toxin to anyone by releasing it while driving along an interstate seems extremely unlikely to be effective.  As described in the CDC document, ricin powder, which was the planned form to be used, is not particularly toxic on contact with skin and does not transport readily across skin despite many references to keeping it off skin in the conversations reported in an affidavit from the case posted by MSNBC (pdf). Instead, ricin has to be eaten or inhaled to be toxic:

  • Inhalation: Within a few hours of inhaling significant amounts of ricin, the likely symptoms would be respiratory distress (difficulty breathing), fever, cough, nausea, and tightness in the chest. Heavy sweating may follow as well as fluid building up in the lungs (pulmonary edema). This would make breathing even more difficult, and the skin might turn blue. Excess fluid in the lungs would be diagnosed by x-ray or by listening to the chest with a stethoscope. Finally, low blood pressure and respiratory failure may occur, leading to death. In cases of known exposure to ricin, people having respiratory symptoms that started within 12 hours of inhaling ricin should seek medical care.
  • Ingestion: If someone swallows a significant amount of ricin, he or she would develop vomiting and diarrhea that may become bloody. Severe dehydration may be the result, followed by low blood pressure. Other signs or symptoms may include hallucinations, seizures, and blood in the urine. Within several days, the person’s liver, spleen, and kidneys might stop working, and the person could die.
  • Skin and eye exposure: Ricin is unlikely to be absorbed through normal skin. Contact with ricin powders or products may cause redness and pain of the skin and the eyes.

And how would a real terrorist go about using ricin as a WMD?  Well, al Qaeda knows:

Intelligence officials say they have collected evidence that Qaeda operatives are trying to move castor beans and processing agents to a hideaway in Shabwa Province, in one of Yemen’s rugged tribal areas controlled by insurgents. The officials say the evidence points to efforts to secretly concoct batches of the poison, pack them around small explosives, and then try to explode them in contained spaces, like a shopping mall, an airport or a subway station.

To carry out a significant attack with ricin, it would be necessary to suspend the ricin in air (hence the explosives) in an enclosed area where people are likely to inhale the powder.  Dispersing it instead along an interstate highway where people are driving up to 80 mph is almost the opposite of the scenario planned by al Qaeda, and yet the FBI devotes significant space to the freeway part of the plan in the affidavit.

Following the pattern seen in recent FBI busts of “terrorists”, this group also was infiltrated by a “confidential human source”, referred to as CHS1 in the affidavit.  Remarkably, even the first meeting discussed in this affidavit was recorded.  A bit of nomenclature stood out to me in the discussion of the recording; the affidavit described the meeting as “consensually recorded”.  After a bit of digging, I found an IRS description of terms where I learned that this means that the meeting was recorded with the “consent of at least one, but not all, of the participants”.  This means, of course, that CHS1 “consented” to the recording, but the other participants in the meeting almost certainly did not.

As usual, CHS1 is an informant facing other charges from the government.  From the affidavit:

CHS1 is currently on bond for pending felony state charges. The FBI administered a polygraph test to CHS1 during the investigation of a militia group. The FBI polygrapher determined that CHS1 gave less than truthful responses concerning the activities of the militia group.

It’s good that these clowns are off the streets, as it does sound like they had intentions of doing as much harm as they could.  However, from what I can see so far in the one affidavit I have read, they hadn’t gotten much farther than showing off a few castor beans after a meeting at the local Waffle House.  Oh, and the FBI breathlessly tells us that a castor bean obtained from the plotters “tested positive for ricin”.  Sheesh, I would hope so, since castor beans are the source of ricin.  And yes, they even carried out a DNA test to prove the bean was a castor bean.

It will be very informative to read the rest of the documents in this case as they become available in order to determine the extent to which these guys intended violence on their own or if they were pushed in that direction by infiltration.