A plot to kidnap a US governor and put her “on trial” was foiled by undercover agents and informants, according to the FBI.
Six men have been charged in federal court over the plan, concocted by what the authorities call a “militia” – to abduct Michigan Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Seven others were charged in a state court, accused of trying to target police and the state Capitol building.
The plot to kidnap the politician was months in the making, according to an FBI affidavit, which revealed the group rehearsed the assault in August and September.
Four of the accused planned to meet on Wednesday to “make a payment on explosives and exchange tactical gear,” the FBI said in the court filing.
The FBI quoted one of the suspects as saying Whitmer “has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now. All good things must come to an end.”
The six men charged in federal court were arrested on Wednesday night and face up to life in prison if convicted.
Andrew Birge, the US attorney in western Michigan, called them “violent extremists.”
The plot was stopped with the work of undercover agents and informers, the government said.
Through electronic communications, two of the alleged conspirators “agreed to unite others in their cause and take violent action against multiple state governments that they believe are violating the US Constitution,” the FBI said.
The criminal complaint identified the six as Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, Brandon Caserta, all of Michigan, and Barry Croft of Delaware.
Plot to take hostages
Fox said he needed 200 men to storm the Capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including the governor, according to the FBI.
He said he wanted to try Whitmer for “treason” and would execute the plan before the presidential election on November 3, the government said.
The group later shifted to targeting the governor’s vacation home, the FBI said.
At a press conference after the news of the criminal charges, Gretchen Whitmer thanked the authorities for pursuing charges against the “sick and depraved men” accused of being behind the plot.
“If you break the law, or conspire to commit heinous acts of violence against anyone, we will find you, we will hold you accountable, and we will bring you to justice,” she said.
“For the past seven months I’ve made tough choices to keep our state safe. These have been gut-wrenching decisions no governor has ever had to make.”
She also accused US President Donald Trump of “stoking distrust, fomenting anger, and giving comfort to those that spread hatred, fear and division”.