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Nine Christian militants charged in anti-govt plot
Nine members of a radical US Christian militia planning to kill a police officer in Michigan and then attack his funeral to rally sympathisers for a widespread anti-government uprising have been charged in an indictment unsealed on Monday.
AFP - Nine members of a radical Christian militia were charged with plotting to kill police in Michigan and wage war on the US government, an indictment unsealed Monday said.
Prosecutors say the Hutaree militia considered law enforcement to be "foot soldiers" of the federal government and counted among their enemies anyone who did not share their beliefs or was participating in the "new world order."
The Hutaree website says it is "preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive."
They had allegedly been training since at least 2008 and planned to kill a law enforcement officer and then attack the funeral with home-made bombs.
They would then retreat to one of several "rally points" to "wage war against the government and be prepared to defend in depth with trip-wired and command detonated anti-personnel Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), ambushes, and prepared fighting positions," the charging document said.
"It is believed by the Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more widespread uprising against the government," the indictment said.
Prosecutors said a weekend raid on militia members in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana was necessary because the group planned to kill anyone who got in the way of a "covert reconnaissance operation" planned for April.
Eight of the militia members were initially arrested.
The leader's son, 21-year-old Joshua Stone, was arrested late Monday in a former militia training area near a church in rural Wheatland Township, Michigan, the local Detroit Free Press newspaper reported.
Authorities lured Stone out of hiding by playing messages over a loud speaker recorded by family and friends, calling on him to surrender peacefully, the report said, citing the Detroit FBI office.
"The indictment unsealed today outlines an insidious plan by anti-government extremists to murder a law enforcement officer in order to lure police from across the nation to the funeral where they would be attacked with explosive devices," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
"Thankfully, this alleged plot has been thwarted and a severe blow has been dealt to an dangerous organization that today stands accused of conspiring to levy war against the United States."
The group's logo is a cross with the initials CCR, which stand for Colonial Christian Republic and its name means "Christian warrior."
A video posted on the website depicts a group of heavily armed men in military gear replacing a burning United Nations flag with their flag after pretending to kill soldiers wearing blue helmets.
The group also warns of the coming of the Anti-Christ and the "Beast" and cites Biblical passages to prove that "Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves."
"This is an example of radical and extremist fringe groups which can be found throughout our society," Andrew Arena, special agent in charge of the Detroit office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said in a statement.
"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."
The number of extremist groups and armed militias which advocate radical anti-government doctrines and conspiracy theories nearly tripled last year to 512 from 149 in 2008, according to a recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the activities of hate groups.
The militia members face charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.
Those charged were: militia leader David Brian Stone, 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; his sons Joshua Matthew Stone, 21 and David Brian Stone, Jr., 19; Joshua Clough, 28; Michael Meeks, 40; Thomas Piatek, 46; Kristopher Sickles, 27; and Jacob Ward, 33.
David Stone, who also went by the pseudonyms of Captain Hutaree and Joe Stonewall, thought he was "invincible," his ex-fiancee said.
He thought that "Christ wanted us to do this, (but) he could never prove that to anybody," Andrea Harsh told Fox News.
They face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
A detention hearing and arraignment was set for Wednesday.