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IPFS News Link • Militia

SPLC's Heidi Beirich: Myspace friends = broad militia ties

• Detroit Free Press
The actions of the Christian militia group raided in Michigan are part of a growing trend of militant activity across the U.S. because of the weak economy and an African-American president, experts and a civil rights group said today.

Hutaree, a militia based in Lenawee County, allegedly planned an uprising against the U.S. government by plotting to murder police.

"I don't think this is the last we're going to see of these groups," said Michael Barkun, a professor of political science at Syracuse University who studies religious violence and extremism. "The number of such groups has increased fairly dramatically in the last couple of years."

The number of extremist anti-government groups and militias grew from 149 in 2008 to 512 in 2009, said Heidi Beirich, director of research at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil groups that monitors extremism.

"That is a lot of change in a short period of time," Beirich said.

She said factors include the poor economy and demographic changes in the country's racial and ethnic composition — symbolized by an African American in the White House and a female House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. Both are Democrats and seen by some as pushing for bigger government that will diminish their freedom.

"The country is becoming more diverse," Beirich said. "Some people find it hard to handle ... these are extreme stressors for people."

Hutaree -- which means "Christian warrior" -- is a group based in Lenawee County that federal prosecutors describe as "an anti-government extremist organization which advocates against local, state, and federal law enforcement officials."

The group's members hoped that killing law enforcement would lead to "a more widespread uprising against the government," the indictment reads.

Professor Barkun said the group is a millennialist group that "seems to be preparing for warfare in the end of times against what they see as the forces of the antichrist. They regard that struggle as imminent. …They apparently believe that the saved will have to fight through the tribulations against the forces of the antichrist."

The group sees themselves as "being engaged in combat against the forces of evil," he said.

To Hutaree, the antichrist is the government.

Beirich said that Hutaree was not isolated from other militias, noting that it had more than 363 friends on My Space, including militias in Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan.

"They were part of the broader militia movement," she said.

But one militia leader in Michigan said Hutaree was not connected to them in any way, describing Hutaree as a fringe cult.

"They more closely fit the definition of a cult," said Michael Lackomar, with the Southeastern Michigan Volunteer Militia and "They believe the world is about to end according to how it was written in the Bible, and their job is to stand up and clear the way for Jesus and fight along side him against the forces of darkness."

Lackomar said, "A lot of people are upset at an ever growing government that is overreaching."

But he added that his militia is not associated with Hutaree "in any way, shape, or form."

He said their plans to attack law enforcement are "despicable."

Lackomar said that during the federal raid, a member of Hutaree attempted to seek the help of another militia member associated with Lackomar's group. But the man told the Hutaree member he should turn himself in and didn't help him, Lackomar said.

“You got to leave. I can’t help you,” the militia member told the Hutaree member, Lackomar said.