The Hutaree is one of 127 armed militias in the US, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit organization in Montgomery, Ala., that tracks hate groups nationwide. That number has increased 200 percent since 2008, when there were 42, SPLC says.
There is “no question” the catalyst was President Obama’s election, says Heidi Beirich, the center’s director of research. A similar upswing took place after President Clinton’s election in 1993. Militias and the antigovernment groups that spawn them often become more active when the federal government turns more liberal.
“A major shift to the left certainly helped” in both cases, Ms. Beirich says.
The economic meltdown and the growth of minorities such as Latinos are also a factor, she adds.
Federal authorities say the Hutaree started to conduct military-style training in Michigan’s Lenawee County in August 2008.
After debating different scenarios, the group decided upon killing a local law enforcement official and attacking the subsequent funeral procession, the indictment says. The indictment says the Hutaree planned to use “improvised explosive devices” and “explosively formed projectiles” that, authorities say, qualify as weapons of mass destruction.
The group accelerated training in February and March with plans to carry out the attack in April, the indictment states.