Oct. 29 (UPI) — The FBI arrested two men in Michigan, including the self-proclaimed leader of a white supremacist group amid a crackdown on extremism in the state.
Justin Watkins, the 25-year-old leader of the white supremacist group known as “The Base,” and Alfred Gorman, 35, were arrested in a pair of raids on their homes Thursday in connection with a December 2019 incident in which police said they tried to intimidate a family and shared their address with members of the group.
The pair were charged with gang membership — a 20-year felony — as well as unlawful posting of a message and using computers to commit a crime.
“Using tactics of intimidation to incite fear and violence constitutes criminal behavior,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “We cannot allow dangerous activities to reach their goal of inflicting violence and harm on the public.”
The arrests were linked to an incident in which a family called police after spotting two men in dark clothing walking nearby their home while flashing lights and taking pictures while on their front porch.
Police later learned the men were members of the Base who mistook the home for the dwelling of a podcaster they were targeting.
Authorities also said Watkins and Gorman used online chatrooms to encourage members to meet in person and engage in military training to prepare for an insurgency against the U.S. government.
Additionally, Nessel said they were attempting to convert a farm in the state into a “hate camp” to train recruits.
Three members of The Base were arrested in January on federal charges in Maryland and Delaware and three more were arrested in Georgia the following day.
While not directly related, Thursday’s arrests come after The Base and other extremist groups in Michigan have come under increased scrutiny after the FBI thwarted a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.