December 4, 2020

Armed Michigan plotters hid their cellphones in a box to be safe but failed to check each other for wires

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  • Members of the armed group, who were charged with plotting to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, made some security lapses during their group meetings.
  • One of the members collected all of their cell phones and put them in a box “to prevent any monitoring,” a federal affidavit said.
  • Unbeknownst to them, however, one of the confidential sources who attended the meeting was wearing a recording device.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Several members of an armed group who were charged with plotting to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan at her vacation home failed to thoroughly inspect each other for security breaches during a group meeting, according to a federal affidavit released Thursday.

Adam Fox, one of the six men who was charged in the plot, was said to have met with other accomplices at his business in Grand Rapids on June 20. According to federal investigators, Fox was aware of the risks and conducted the meeting in the basement that was “accessed through a trap door hidden under a rug.”

Fox then collected all of the cell phones in a box and put it upstairs “to prevent any monitoring,” the criminal complaint said.

Unbeknownst to Fox, however, one of the confidential sources who attended the meeting was wearing a recording device. The audio revealed that the group had plans to attack the state capitol and use Molotov cocktails against police vehicles.

All of the FBI’s confidential sources were vetted for reliability and none of them “were aware of the [others] involved with the groups in order to preserve the independence of their reporting.”

While the affidavit only relied on two confidential sources and two undercover employees, it used other sources during the investigation.

Six men were charged in connection with the kidnapping plot. The FBI said it became aware of the plans sometime in early 2020 through social media channels. Seven other men were charged with terrorism-related crimes.

“Several members talked about murdering ‘tyrants’ or ‘taking’ a sitting governor,” FBI agent Richard Trask II said in the affidavit. “The group decided they needed to increase their numbers and encouraged each other to talk to their neighbors and spread their message.”

Fox also claimed he needed 200 men to attack the capitol building in Lansing and take hostages, including Gov. Whitmer.

“Snatch and grab, man. Grab the f—in’ governor. Just grab the b—-,” Fox said during a July 27 meeting. “Because at that point, we do that, dude — it’s over.”

Whitmer has been criticized by conservative activists for the state’s response to the coronavirus. In April, Whitmer extended a stay-at-home order that imposed restrictions on businesses that were classified as essential. The order was later rescinded as part of the state’s reopening plans.

During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Whitmer described the men as “sick and depraved.”

“Hatred, bigotry and violence have no place in the great state of Michigan,” she said.

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