Federal sweep may have foiled anti-Muslim plot
March 28, 2010 (WLS) -- A domestic terror investigation spanning the Midwest from Ohio through Michigan across Indiana and into Illinois has occupied hundreds of federal law enforcement agents this weekend.
Raids by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and state and local police in two dozen jurisdictions began on Saturday and are expected to continue through Sunday evening, according to a memo from the Michigan State Police where the investigation is centered.
Sweeps by the U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force are aimed at executing federal search warrants and making arrests in connection with a probe of planned violence, possibly targeting Muslim-Americans according to one civil rights official. The investigation is looking into bombing plots by members of suspected militia organizations. The FBI in Detroit is coordinating teams of agents that fanned out this weekend in several counties across at least 4 states.
Charges are expected to be unsealed in federal court in Detroit on Monday. Until then, FBI officials and U.S. prosecutors in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Washington, DC say the specifics of the case remain sealed by court order.
At least 7 people are currently in custody in connection with the secret federal probe. One of them was arrested last night in west suburban Clarendon Hills, according to the Chicago FBI.
Federal agents from Chicago and Indianapolis first attempted to arrest the individual at an address on Calumet Avenue in Hammond, Indiana. The person wasn't there, however authorities were led to a second location west of Chicago.
It was there, in the leafy suburb of Clarendon Hills, that federal officers arrested the person on Sunday morning.
While the suspects name and the exact nature of the charges have not been made public, it is believed from law enforcement that a portion of the case focuses on illegal pipe-bombs. The person arrested in Clarendon Hills will appear in federal court in Hammond, IN on Monday, according to a Justice Dept. official.
In Michigan, raids went down Saturday night in Washtenaw County and Lenawee County west of Detroit.
The investigation is believed to be targeting members of Hutaree, a militia group that claims to be Christian-based. According to local law enforcement reports, several members of that group were arrested during a raid at a service near Ann Arbor for a Hutaree member who died recently.
AnnArbor.com reported last week that several Hutaree members were recently involved in police searches after two residents went missing in separate incidents. Hutaree is an organization based in Adrian, Michigan. It's members describe themselves as Christian soldiers who are preparing for the arrival and battle with the anti-Christ.
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on Islamic-American Relations of Michigan, on Sunday said that the FBI foiled a plot to attack and kill Muslim-Americans.
Walid was attending the group's 10th anniversary banquet in Dearborn, Michigan where the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson was keynote speaker.
Muslim leaders in Chicago are "following developments of the arrests with great interest and concern," says Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR Chicago.
"If some of the initial reports are true. Then, these radical groups are a chilling indication that anti-Muslim hysteria in some circles may be developing into stages of organized terroristic activity," Rehab said Sunday night.
Late Sunday, on the Hutaree message board, an apparent member of the group wrote about how the FBI came into their home and that she and one child escaped. "The Federal Authorities have raided not only our group but also the Michigan Militia. They have hijacked their website and placed word there that they were not raided" wrote the woman named Anna.
The Michigan Militia indeed reported on Sunday that it's members had not been subjected to raids or arrest. It is unclear whether this is accurate.
The Hutaree message board author further reported: "We need some help please. This has to stop. I am enroute south with my children using the wifi's as I can. They were catching others as they came to their rallying points, they broke into homes and took children and used the tasers on wives, my son who is 12 and I got out by crawling through the creeks behind our house. My husband and others are taken, please call the press and tell them, if any in the Michigan Militia is still free please rally with them. Please help."
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