Feds: Christian militia needed to be ‘taken down’
DETROIT (AP) – It started inside a trailer home in rural Michigan, where a small family gathered before bed for prayer. Years later, the private devotions had evolved into a small militia of “Christian warriors” preparing to fight the Antichrist.
The changes in David Brian Stone’s personal theology partly destroyed his marriage, his former wife says, and prosecutors claim they later led him to hatch a plot to kill police officers – a violent act the militia hoped would touch off an uprising against the government.
“The time had come that we needed to arrest them and take them down,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
Prosecutors believe that Stone, 44, of Clayton, is the ringleader of the Hutaree militia, a name the group’s Web site says they created to mean “Christian warrior.” He was among eight members arrested during a series of weekend raids in three Midwestern states, which federal officials said they carried out after monitoring the group since last summer and learning they planned to launch their attack next month.
All eight were arrested without incident. A ninth defendant – Stone’s son, Joshua Matthew Stone – turned himself in late Monday night following an hours-long standoff with FBI agents and police near a wooded area southwest of Detroit the group had used for training. He and the others face charges that include seditious conspiracy, or plotting to levy war against the U.S.
Donna Stone, 44, said her ex-husband created the legal problems now faced by her stepson, Joshua Stone, and her 19-year-old son, David Brian Stone Jr., by involving them in a militia that grew out of his faith.
“I honestly feel, and think, their dad never told either of those boys what they were getting into,” she said.
Chip Berlet, a senior analyst with Political Research Associates, a think tank based in Somerville, Mass., said Hutaree’s online writings suggest the group fits into a Christian apocalyptic ideology that believes the U.S. government is “in league with Satan” and “the chief agent of Satan is the Antichrist.”
McQuade downplayed the role religious ideology played in the group’s alleged plans, saying the “most troubling” finding of their investigation into the Hutaree were the details of their alleged plot. Prosecutors have said the militia planned to make a false 911 call, kill responding police officers and then use a bomb to kill many more at the funeral.
The group was preparing to carry out an attack sometime in April, prosecutors said, after months of paramilitary training that began in 2008 and included learning how to shoot guns and make bombs. Authorities seized guns in the raids but would not say whether they found explosives.