– The Associated Press

DETROIT – Nine alleged members of a Christian militia group that was girding for battle with the Antichrist were charged Monday with plotting to kill a police officer and slaughter scores more by bombing the funeral — all in hopes of touching off an uprising against the U.S. government.

Seven men and one woman believed to be part of the Michigan-based Hutaree were arrested over the weekend in raids in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The ninth suspect was arrested Monday night after a search in rural southern Michigan.

The FBI moved quickly against Hutaree because its members were planning an attack sometime in April, prosecutors said. Authorities seized guns in the raids but would not say whether they found explosives.

The arrests have dealt “a severe blow to a dangerous organization that today stands accused of conspiring to levy war against the United States,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

‘WIDESPREAD UPRISING’ PLANNED

Authorities said the arrests underscored the dangers of homegrown right-wing extremism of the sort seen in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

In an indictment unsealed Monday, prosecutors said the group began military-style training in the Michigan woods in 2008, learning how to shoot guns and make and set off bombs.

David Brian Stone, 44, of Clayton, Mich., and one of his sons were identified as the ringleaders of the group.

“It started out as a Christian thing,” Stone’s ex-wife, Donna Stone, said. “You go to church. You pray. You take care of your family. I think David started to take it a little too far.”

Donna Stone said her ex-husband pulled her son into the movement. Another of David Stone’s sons was arrested Monday night about 30 miles from the site of the weekend raid at a home where he was found with five other adults and a toddler.

Joshua Matthew Stone surrendered about 8 p.m., said Andrew Arena, head of the FBI’s field office in Detroit. Stone’s friends and relatives had recorded messages, urging him to surrender, that the FBI played over loudspeakers outside the home before he and the others came out willingly, Arena said.

Arena said the other adults at the home were taken into custody and will be interviewed. A determination will be made later about whether they might face charges, he said.

Details such as whether those in the house had weapons or were affiliated with Hutaree weren’t immediately released.

Prosecutors said David Stone had identified certain law enforcement officers near his home as potential targets. He and other members discussed setting off bombs at a police funeral, using a fake 911 call to lure an officer to his death or killing an officer after a traffic stop, according to the indictment.

After such attacks, the group allegedly planned to retreat to “rally points” protected by trip-wired explosives for a violent standoff with the law.

“It is believed by the Hutaree that this engagement would then serve as a catalyst for a more widespread uprising against the government,” the indictment said.

NO SPECIFIC GRIEVANCES STATED

The charges against the eight include seditious conspiracy — plotting to levy war against the U.S.; possessing a firearm during a crime of violence; teaching the use of explosives; and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction — homemade bombs. The defendants were jailed, awaiting bail hearings Wednesday.

Hutaree says on its Web site that its name means “Christian warrior” in a secret language. The group declares: “We believe that one day, as prophecy says, there will be an Anti-Christ. Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment.”

The nature of the organization’s alleged grudge against law enforcement and the government was unclear. The Web site lists no specific grievances.

David Cid, executive director of the Oklahoma City-based Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, said there has been a resurgence in the past year or two of “domestic militancy” similar to what was seen before the Oklahoma bombing.

“It’s issues like eminent domain and immigration, and apparently national health care in some quarters,” said Cid, a former FBI counterterrorism agent. “It’s increasing these people’s ire and their discomfort with their own government.”

The wife of one of the defendants described Hutaree as a small group of patriotic, Christian buddies who were just doing survival training.

Kelly Sickles, whose husband, Kristopher, 27, was among those charged, said she couldn’t believe he could be involved in anything violent.

“It was just survival skills,” she said. “That’s what they were learning. And it’s just patriotism. It’s in our Constitution.”

Seven of the defendants in court in Michigan asked to be represented by public defenders. The eighth had a public defender appointed in Indiana.