Mar 28, 2010 23 Comments ›› Pat Dollard
At lest 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, the FBI confirmed that federal law enforcement agents were conducting activities in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties over the weekend in connection to Hutaree, a Christian militia group. 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.
Federal agents conducted raids over the weekend in Lenawee and Wastenaw counties that reports say may be related to some members of Hutaree, a Christian-militia group in Michigan.
“We can confirm that there were law enforcement activities in the Lenawee/Washtenaw County area,” said Detroit FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold. But she added that “the federal warrants are sealed and we can not comment at this time.”
The website for Hutaree says that it is “preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.” The group’s logo is a cross with the initials CCR, Colonial Christian Republic. In one of its videos, a group of men in military gear take down a burning United Nations flag and replace it with their flag, which has a cross.
Other militia groups said they have nothing to do with the federal raids.
“Neither MICHIGANMILITIA.COM nor the SMVM (Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia) have been raided by the FBI. We do nothing illegal.” reads a statement on michiganmilitia.com
On the Hutaree website, it warns of an anti-Christ. “As christians we all are a part of the Souls of the Body of Christ, the one true church of Christ. Not any specific man made building or any man controlled organization. This is the belief of the Hutaree soldier, as should the belief of all followers in Christ be. We believe that one day, as prophecy says, there will be an Anti-Christ. All christians must know this and prepare, just as Christ commanded.”
The group’s message boards contained messages expressing concern about the raids.
ADRIAN, Mich. (AP) â€“ The FBI says agents have conducted weekend raids in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, and at least three people have been arrested.
Federal warrants are sealed, but FBI spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said Sunday there has been “law enforcement activity” in two Michigan counties near the Ohio border.
FBI spokesman Scott Wilson in Cleveland says agents arrested two people Saturday in northwest Ohio. A third arrest was made in Illinois on Sunday, a day after raids in northwest Indiana.
WXYZ-TV in Detroit reports that one raid centered on a Michigan property where suspected members of a militia live.
The Michigan Militia says on its Web site that neither it nor the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia have been raided. An e-mail sent to the group Sunday wasn’t immediately returned.