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Michigan Christian Militia Group Appears in Federal Court

A standoff between police officers and the Hutaree Christian militia group ended with the arrest of Joshua Matthew Stone Monday night. Stone is the ninth member of the Michigan-based militia group accused of plotting to kill law enforcement officers in an act of defiance against the US government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations seized weapons and arrested eight members of the Hutaree Militia Group in weekend raids in the midwestern states of Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Members of the group are accused of planning an attack against local law enforcement officers.

Stone, 21, appeared in Federal Court in Detroit on Tuesday.

Heidi Beirich, the Director of Research for the civil rights organization The Southern Poverty Law Center, says the group publishes a watchlist of militias across the country. The Hutaree Militia appeared on that watchlist this spring. "The problem with all groups that share extreme anti-government views is that they come to see the federal government as the enemy. And it's not that big of a step to go from there to committing violence," she said.

Prosecutors say the group's leader, Stone's father, David Brian Stone, 44, identified police officers near his Michigan home as targets for the group's attacks. After planning to kill one officer, the group would attack other law enforcement agents attending the funeral.

In a Grand Jury indictment unsealed in Federal court in Detroit on Monday, prosecutors outline the group's plan to carry out the attack sometime in April. They allege militia members conducted military-like training in the Michigan woods in 2008 to prepare for the attacks.

The group had hundreds of followers on social media sites like Facebook and Myspace, and Beirich says that underscores a warning that groups like this one in Michigan are not isolated. "What it tells you is that the Hutaree militia is not just a group of five or six people who are just angry at the government off on their own. They were conducting training with other militia groups," he said.

David Brian Stone and six other Hutaree members appeared in court on Monday. Another suspect appeared in federal court in Indiana. All eight suspects in Michigan face a detention hearing on Wednesday.

Charges against the group include seditious conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction.

If convicted, members of the group could face life in prison.