Seven Arrested in FBI Raids Linked to Christian Militia Group
At least seven people, including some from Michigan, have been arrested in raids by a FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as part of an investigation into an Adrian-based Christian militia group, a person familiar with the matter said.
The suspects are expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Monday.
On Sunday, a source close to the investigation in Washington, D.C. confirmed that FBI agents were conducting activities in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties over the weekend in connection to Hutaree, a Christian militia group. Detroit FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold told The Detroit News the federal warrants in the case are under court seal and declined further comment.
Sources have said the FBI was in the second day of raids around the southeastern Michigan city of Adrian that are connected to a militia group, known as the Hutaree, an Adrian-based group whose members describe themselves as Christian soldiers preparing for the arrival and battle with the anti-Christ.
WXYZ-TV reports that helicopters were spotted in the sky for much of Saturday night, and agents set up checkpoints throughout the area. Witnesses told the station that it was like a small army had descended on the area. The Department of Homeland Security and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are also involved in the raids.
Mike Lackomar, of Michiganmilitia.com, said both The Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia and the Michiganmilitia.com were not a part of the raid.
Lackomar said he heard from other militia members that the FBI targeted the Hutaree after its members made threats of violence against Islamic organizations.
"Last night and into today the FBI conducted a raid against homes belonging to the Hutaree. They are a religious cult. They are not part of our militia community," he said.
Lackomar said he was told there were five arrests Saturday and another five early Sunday. The FBI declined to comment.
One of the Hutaree members called a Michigan militia leader for assistance Saturday after federal agents had already began their raid, Lackomar said, but the militia member -- who is of Islamic decent and had heard about the threats -- declined to offer help. That Michigan militia leader is now working with federal officials to provide information on the Hutaree member for the investigation, Lackomar said Sunday.
"They are more of survivalist group and in an emergency they withdraw and stand their ground. They are actively training to be alongside Jesus," he said.
Sources from the Michigan militia community said one of the FBI raids took place Saturday during a wake for a Hutaree member who had died of natural causes. A Hutaree leader was arrested during the wake while at the same time agents were conducting raids at other locations.
The Associated Press is reporting that FBI spokesman Scott Wilson in Cleveland said agents arrested two people Saturday in northwest Ohio. A third arrest was made in Illinois on Sunday, a day after raids in northwest Indiana.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on Islamic-American Relations of Michigan, made an announcement Sunday during the group's 10th anniversary banquet about receiving a call from a network journalist about the alleged threat against Muslims.
"Don't allow this news to scare you away from practicing your faith," said Walid.
Audible gasps were heard throughout the banquet hall when the news was announced. Walid said he will call local authorities about more information on the allegations. He urged local Muslims to recommitt themselves to their faith in light of the accusations.
David Shepardson and Oralandar Brand-Williams contributed to this report.