Domestic terror expert breaks down militia groups after Michigan arrests
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Last week, 13 members of a militia group, the Wolverine Watchmen, were arrested by state officers and FBI agents in Michigan.
Federal charges of conspiracy, terrorism, and weapons violations were filed against six men. Seven others have been charged under two counts of Michigan law.
Detailed in the arrest warrants for the Wolverine members indicate individuals had been building improvised explosive devices, conducting tactical weapons training, and surveying the homes of law enforcement officers and the Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer. It is alleged that the Wolverine Watchmen’s ultimate goal was to start a civil war.
This week, there are new reports the group may also have been targeting Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam because of coronavirus lock down orders that restricted business.
On First News at Four, we talked with an associated professor at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, Danny Davis. He has studied domestic terrorism for 30 years.
“It says a lot about our law enforcement,” Davis said about catching these groups.
However, Davis says this isn’t the first time there’s been an arrest like this one.
“Back in 2016, another group called “The Hutarree” in Michigan was arrested for conspiracy,” Davis said.
The Hutaree allegedly planned to murder a policeman and then assault the funeral. The government charges stated that the conspirators' goal was to inspire a revolution against the government. Davis says there are quite a few of these types of militia groups that exist across the country.
“You could call it the American Militia Movement, if you would,” Davis continued. “They have different goals, different world views. But the ones that lean towards the extreme right, they’re anti-government, big on the second amendment, and they have a view of a very strict interpretation of the Constitution.”
Davis says agencies track these types of groups by monitoring social media across the internet.
“They make these connections and then they’ll do their best to try to turn somebody who’s in the organization or infiltrate an officer into the group,” Davis continued. “Just call it good police work.”
Davis explains Fusion Centers which have personnel from the Department of Justice, local and state police in which they process information between all of them to pick up on threats in different areas.
However, Davis says it is unusual to see high-profile people to be targets like this.
Rhetoric usually ramps up before an election, and Davis says he anticipates it to continue until Nov. 3.
“The tactics and the techniques that they use are really the same. There might be a different world view, there might be a different goal,” Davis continued. “All of these groups that are conducting these illegal plan destined activities.”
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