Kidnap the governor, start a civil war. In the United States, 13 men linked to a far-right American group have been indicted after the FBI foiled their plot thanks to informants and undercover agents. They are accused of having conspired for months to remove the Democratic Governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer, a staunch opponent of Donald Trump, and, therefore, to start a “civil war”. Six of the conspirators, considered “violent extremists” by West Michigan District Attorney Andrew Birge, planned to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer before the Nov. 3 presidential election and then “try” her for “treason,” according to him. the indictment made public Thursday.
Seven other men associated with the local group Wolverine Watchmen were also arrested and charged with planning “an operation to attack the Capitol building and kidnap government officials, including the governor,” added the Minister of Justice of the United States. Michigan, Dana Nessel. These militiamen also “uttered threats of violence to provoke a civil war”, explained Dana Nessel.
“I had never imagined such a thing”
The governor said she was shocked by the news. “When I took the oath 22 months ago, I knew this job could be difficult. But to be honest, I never imagined such a thing, reacted Gretchen Whitmer at a press conference. And she accused President Donald Trump of “legitimizing” the actions of “terrorists from within” by refusing in particular to condemn supporters of white supremacism last week, during her debate against Democratic candidate Joe Biden. On Twitter, the Republican president expressed no sympathy for Gretchen Whitmer. “Rather than say thank you” for the FBI’s action, “she calls me a white supremacist,” he complained. “I do NOT tolerate extreme violence. Defending ALL Americans, even those who oppose or attack me, is what I will always do as your president! He added, however.
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The investigation began at the beginning of the year when the federal police “learned on social networks that a group of individuals were talking of overthrowing by violence certain components of the government and the police”, according to the ‘indictment. The six defendants, who were arrested, accused the governor in particular of being a “tyrant” and of exercising “unchecked power”. In fact, Gretchen Whitmer had decreed in mid-March some of the most severe restrictions in the country to curb the coronavirus epidemic in her state in the northern United States, at the time one of the most affected by the Covid -19. She then became the regular target of attacks by Donald Trump, who had in a tweet called to “liberate Michigan”.
Michigan, hotspot for anti-health restrictions
Thousands of lockdown opponents, some heavily armed, have repeatedly demonstrated to reopen Michigan’s economy. At the end of April, armed demonstrators even entered the Capitol, the seat of state government, to demand the relaxation of health measures. To carry out their project, the six men contacted the “Wolverine Watchmen”, with whom they trained for the operation.
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Several kidnapping scenarios had been considered: in Lansing, the state capital, at Ms. Whitmer’s home, and at her vacation home in northern Michigan. The conspirators monitored the governor’s various residences and tested homemade explosive devices, said Andrew Birge. They also attempted to purchase other explosives, according to an undercover FBI agent cited in the indictment. In July, one of them said on the phone that he wanted to “turn everything upside down”. “I just want the world to go up in flames, man. I’m not even kidding. […] I don’t care, I’m so sick of it. This is what we have to do to recover [le monde, NDLR], everything must be annihilated. We’re gonna turn it all over, man. It is [ce que font] the great conquerors, man, ”he says, comments cited by the prosecution.
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Suspects face life imprisonment
The six men are being prosecuted at the federal level and face sentences of up to life. The other seven are being prosecuted for violation of Michigan’s anti-terrorism law, including “material support for a terrorist act” and “gang membership”, crimes each punishable by 20 years in prison, said Dana Nessel.
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These arrests come amidst a climate of extreme tension between the Republican president and his Democratic opponents less than a month before the election, as the coronavirus pandemic has plunged the United States into a serious economic crisis. “We are not enemies, this virus is our enemy”, pleaded Thursday, Gretchen Whitmer. But while the pandemic was to be an opportunity for “national unity”, Donald Trump “has spent the last seven months in […] to stir up mistrust and to comfort those who propagate fear and hatred, ”she said. “What he says matters”, added Joe Biden, estimating that by calling for “free Michigan”, Donald Trump had encouraged the militias of the extreme right.