Federal prosecutors plan to unseal charges today against members of a self-described Christian militia arrested Saturday and Sunday in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
At least seven people were taken into custody in raids by an FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force as part of an investigation into an Adrian-based unit of the Hutaree, a group that professes it is training in modern armed combat techniques for a prophesized coming battle with the Antichrist.
The suspects are expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Detroit today, according to federal authorities, who declined to discuss the charges behind the multistate arrests.
“Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment …,” one of the group’s purported leaders wrote on its Web site. “We, the Hutaree, are prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren’t. We will still spread the word, and fight to keep it, up to the time of the great coming.”
The group’s insignia, worn as a patch on military camouflage uniforms, is a cross-shaped sword and the letters CCR for Colonial Christian Republic. The Hutaree Web site features links to conservative Christian news outlets along with photos and videos of combat training sessions under the banner, “Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.”
Detroit FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold said warrants in the case are under court seal and declined further comment.
A member of the controversial Michigan Militia said Sunday that the Hutaree is a nationwide organization with an ardent following in Adrian, 10 miles from the Ohio border just west of Detroit. “Their philosophy and ours differ in many ways, so we don’t do a whole lot with them. They are too extreme or radical for us,” said Jim Gulliksen, coordinator of the Lenaway Volunteer Michigan Militia with membership of about a dozen in the Adrian area. “I just kind of got a bad feeling about the group and we did not want to associate with them. They are a little too paranoid for me.”
Mike Lackomar of Michiganmilitia.com said he heard from other militia members that the FBI targeted the Hutaree after its members made threats of violence against Islamic organizations. Lackomar said the members of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia and Michiganmilitia.com weren’t arrested.
“Last night and into today (Sunday), the FBI conducted a raid against homes belonging to the Hutaree. They are a religious cult. They are not part of our militia community,” Lackomar said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recently reported a resurgence in politically motivated militias, which emerged in the 1980s under perceived threats to conservative rights and conspiracies about a United Nations takeover when President George H.W. Bush spoke of a “New World Order.”
Militia groups came into the national spotlight in 1995, after the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Michigan native Terry Nichols and Timothy McVeigh were convicted in the bombing, which killed 168 people. Nichols and McVeigh attended Michigan Militia events, a group which believes citizens have constitutional authority to organized an armed force. The Michigan militia denied Nichols and McVeigh were members.
Militia popularity declined during the administration of President George W. Bush, but the Southern Poverty Law Center claims the number of groups espousing anti-government doctrines and political conspiracy theories is again rising with anxiety over a perceived liberal agenda of President Barack Obama. The report identified 512 groups throughout the country, including 47 in Michigan, second to Texas, with 52.