INDIANAPOLIS — Federal authorities thwarted a militia’s plan to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Thirteen people were charged, six federally and seven with state charges.
Federal authorities said months of planning went into stopping the accused from taking Whitmer from her Michigan vacation home.
Former FBI Agent turned founder of Veracity IIR Doug Kouns provided context for investigations like this one in which Michigan State Police claim two groups worked together to plan “various acts of violence.” The federal complaint accuses one group of wanting a “civil war.”
“It’s very concerning in this simmering political climate that it wouldn’t take much to bring it to a boil,” Kouns said. “You’ve got COVID and you’ve got people that feel like their rights are being infringed upon with the masks, and the lockdowns and losing their jobs.”
Kouns also explained when authorities can begin surveilling a group or certain people.
“You don’t just monitor a group because of who they are,” Kouns said. “You monitor individuals within the group or the group as a whole because the individuals are in it because they’re talking about committing a crime.”
Kouns explained conspiracy charges, which six of the 13 are charged with, come when you go a step further with a plan.
“So, if somebody talks about robbing a bank, it’s just talk right now,” Kouns explained. “But when they go buy a ski mask to do it, you just committed an overt act and now you’ve committed conspiracy to rob a bank.”
Kouns adds social media can make it easier for like-minded people or groups to connect. Social media is the first place FBI agents became aware of the group of men charged federally.
“You just have to type in a few keywords, and you can find all kinds of different groups,” Kouns said. “If you’re like-minded, you can follow them and participate in the discussions, become radicalized. It’s concerning for sure.”