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Militia group plan to kidnap Whitmer was part of attempt to start civil war: officials

The militia group whose members planned to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Democrats condemn Trump's rhetoric against Michigan governor as allies defend rally MORE (D) was attempting to instigate a civil war through attacks on the state Capitol building and targeting police officers, officials said Thursday.

Members of the group, identified by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel as the Wolverine Watchmen, are accused of crimes such as conducting surveillance outside of Whitmer’s vacation home, using code language and encrypted messages and putting a bomb under a bridge to distract police. 

In total, 13 members were charged with felony crimes, including the six who were charged for the governor kidnapping plot, the Detroit Free Press reported

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Nessel described the members as “extremists” who were trying to gain members “by seizing on a moment of civil unrest" in the U.S. 

“There has been a disturbing increase in anti-government rhetoric and the re-emergence of groups that embrace extremist ideologies,” Nessel said at a press conference. "This is more than just political disagreement or passionate advocacy, some of these groups’ mission is simply to create chaos and inflict harm upon others.”

Nessel’s announcement of charges against the seven additional members came after the FBI filed an affidavit on Thursday saying it stopped an attempt to abduct Whitmer in an alleged terror plot. 

The six involved with the plans to kidnap Whitmer were charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping. The affidavit named them as Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.

The seven other defendants face charges of providing material support for terrorists acts and felony firearm possession. They were identified as Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, William Null, Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison, Eric Molitor and Michael Null, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Nessel said these other Wolverine Watchmen members allegedly requested other members find the home addresses of police officers, “made threats of violence to instigate a civil war leading to societal collapse,” and helped in planning an attack on the state Capitol building and schemes to kidnap government officials, including Whitmer.

Federal court documents indicate that the militia intended to complete their plans before the November election. But the investigation, which included paid undercover informants and 200 state and federal law enforcement officials conducting search warrants in more than a dozen cities, halted the plan.