Michigan kidnap arrests show danger of domestic terror close to home

October 8, 2020

Ford School of Public Policy Towsley Policymaker in Residence Javed Ali says the arrests announced October 8 of anti-government plotters who they said were conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer shows the threat of domestic terrorism is real and close to home. 

"The FBI recently designated domestic terrorism as an imminent threat to U.S. security, and these arrests show there are many actors out there who may be conspiring. The news of a lengthy federal/state investigation into a credible far-right plot to kidnap the Governor by self-described militia members in Michigan and other states shows the seriousness of this threat — and the challenges it poses to law enforcement to detect and disrupt such activity." Ali says. 

The alleged plot included plans to overthrow several state governments that the suspects "believe are violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Whitmer,” according to the federal criminal complaint.

“Militia groups and other actors who harbor violent agendas will continue to look for opportunities to conduct attacks against politicians, community members, and government officials whom they believe are legitimate targets. The coordinated efforts of the FBI, the U.S. Attorneys, the state police, and the Attorney General kept this plot at bay, and emphasizes the need for real vigilance," Ali says. 

"Beyond today's developments, there is a history of militia activity in Michigan that stretches back decades. While there is no direct connection between these individuals and those from the past, the underlying conditions that allow militia activities to persist in Michigan and other parts in the country remain unaddressed and require new policy solutions," he adds.

Ali has over 20 years of professional experience in national security and intelligence issues in Washington, DC, serving in the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While at the FBI, he also held senior positions on joint duty assignments at the National Intelligence Council, the National Counterterrorism Center, and the National Security Council under the Trump Administration.