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Michigan alleged kidnapping scheme highlights dangers of domestic terrorism

Posted at 4:27 PM, Oct 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-11 19:27:07-04

There's concern that the militia involved in the alleged scheme to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is part of a growing number of extremist groups mobilizing across the country.

The federal government has charged six men with conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer. The state has charged seven others with firearm and terror charges linked to a domestic terrorist plot to overthrow state governments with Michigan as ground zero.

José de Jesús Rivera is an attorney in Phoenix and the former U.S. Attorney for Arizona under the Clinton administration.

"I'm terrified that I, that we, live in a country, where people think that they can do something like this," he said. "It's not just terrorism, it's an attack on our way of life and an attack on our government."

Rivera said fringe groups are nothing new.

"There have always been a group of people that have wanted to impose their will through arms or so-called militia -- I don't call it militia because the only militia you can have under the constitution is a state-run militia. But I don't know if it's ever been as prominent or given legitimacy as much as they are nowadays, and that's scary," said Rivera.

The arrests underline warnings from law enforcement officials, members of Congress, and groups that track extremism about the increasing threat of extremist and far-right groups.

"I don't care if they're right-wing or left-wing, anyone that creates a militia, it's an attack on our way of life, it's an attack on our history, it's an attack on our democracy," said Rivera. "I would've never thought that such a thing could even be thought of in the United States, that our election process would ever be threatened."

Rivera said he's confident law enforcement -- at both the federal and local levels -- will keep people safe.

"I think the politicians are taking advantage of this, seeing how this may create a voting bloc. And they're encouraging this. And the more you encourage them, the more they're going to grow," said Rivera.

Rivera said, those so-called militias shouldn't have a voice and that's why it's important for people to vote on November 3.