Michigan AG sounds alarm on domestic terrorism after militia members sentenced in plot to kidnap governor

Officials need to "meet it head on and to take it very seriously," she said.

January 3, 2023, 3:37 PM

On the heels of last week's sentencing of two men convicted of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says domestic terrorism is “one of the biggest existential threats” facing the United States and urged officials to take action.

“We have to be prepared to meet it head on and to take it very seriously,” Nessel told ABC News Live’s Phil Lipof on Friday.

A federal judge sentenced Adam Fox to 16 years in prison on Dec. 27. A day later, his fellow militia member, Barry Croft Jr., was sentenced to 19 years and seven months in prison.

United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Lansing, Michigan.
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“If the sentences for these defendants is any indication, people who engage in these kinds of activities are going to be met with some very harsh sentences and spend a very long time behind bars,” Nessel said.

Fox, Croft and others intended to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home in 2020 and planned to use “destructive devices” to hinder Whitmer’s security detail and any responding officers, the Justice Department said in a news release, citing court documents and evidence presented at trial.

“They specifically explored placing a bomb under an interstate overpass near a pedestrian boardwalk,” the release stated.

Both Fox and Croft were convicted in August on charges of conspiracy to kidnap the governor of Michigan and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property, the Justice Department said. Croft was also convicted of knowingly possessing an unregistered destructive device.

“We're not just talking about the governor of the state of Michigan. These are individuals that plotted to kill members of law enforcement. They plotted to kill members of our state legislature. We were incredibly lucky,” Nessel told ABC News.

At Croft’s sentencing last week, a federal prosecutor compared him to a foreign terrorist, telling the court, “What ISIS or al-Qaida calls a mujahedeen, he calls a patriot.” Nessel said that she doesn’t see any difference between the group behind the Whitmer kidnapping plot or a foreign terrorist organization.

“In fact, these different domestic terrorists, they actually compared themselves to these foreign terrorists. That was a badge of honor for them. So their activities are no different whatsoever,” Nessel said.

Four defendants were sentenced federally in the kidnapping plot. Two other militia members — Kaleb Franks and Ty Garbin — pleaded guilty to lesser charges and agreed to testify against Fox and Croft.

Three additional militia members were sentenced last month for state crimes under Michigan’s Anti-Terrorism Act.