Disrupting illegal militia activity top priority for FBI

Reporter: Rich Kolko Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: via WINK News.

Thirteen people were charged with separate plots to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently. There were two plots by different groups. One of those was to instigate a civil war. One of the group was even connected to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Our Safety & Security Specialist looked at the militia activity in Florida Friday amid the prevented plots out of state.

Militias predate the United States and had a role in security over the years. Many states have militias that assist during natural disasters or crisis.

But over the last few decades, some militia groups have turned extreme and developed antigovernment and anti-law enforcement agendas.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks groups that might have ill intentions.

Florida has the second highest number of hate groups in the country. Not all are militias, but they are still of concern.

Bret Hood served in the FBI in Fort Myers for nearly 20 years.

“We always had our ears open for any possibility of a hate group trying to establish a base in Southwest Florida,” Hood said.

These extremist militia groups often organize into paramilitary organizations and assign military ranks or titles. They train with firearms or even explosives. They have been known to target government, courts and law enforcement personnel.

Extremist militias see themselves as protecting what they view as incorrect interpretations of the Constitution of the United States and assaults on their individual liberties.

These types of groups can be difficult to investigate. The FBI and its partners consider disrupting any illegal activity by militias a top priority.

“Law enforcement is successful,” Hood said. “They’re able to find a way to penetrate the group through informants or through electronic surveillance or other investigative techniques that allows them the inside knowledge of what’s going on in real time.”


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