DETROIT — Five members of a Midwest Christian militia accused of conspiring to overthrow the government were lured to a warehouse to attend a phony memorial service so they would be unarmed when authorities arrested them, Michigan’s chief federal agent said Thursday.

The ruse in Ann Arbor was part of a series of weekend raids in several states that resulted in the indictment of nine people in the alleged plot, officials said.

“We basically set up a scenario where we were able to draw them all to one location,” Andrew Arena, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Detroit, told The Associated Press. “And the reason we did that was to obviously get them away from their weapons.”

Nine suspected members of a group called the Hutaree based in Michigan’s Lenawee County were charged this week with plotting to levy war against the U.S., attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and other crimes.

They planned to make a false 911 call, kill responding police officers and set off a bomb at the funeral to kill many more, according to prosecutors. The FBI said it broke up the plot with the help of an undercover agent and informants.

Eight of the suspects are in custody in the Detroit area. The ninth is being held in Indiana.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer in Detroit said Thursday he needed more time to decide whether to grant defense attorneys’ request that the eight remain locked up until trial. A decision was expected Friday.

Urging Scheer to deny the request for bond, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Falvey Jr. said that while there is nothing wrong with owning guns or hating the government, it is illegal when “people with dark hearts and evil intents” gather to discuss ways to commit violence.

Releasing the defendants would allow them to regroup and would increase their fear of law enforcement, Falvey said.

The Hutaree are self-proclaimed “Christian warriors” who trained in paramilitary techniques to prepare for what they say on their Web site is a battle against the Antichrist.

Defense attorneys told Scheer that no evidence against the group has been aired outside the indictment.

Arena said the FBI started looking into the Hutaree nearly two years ago based on “information from the public” he wouldn’t disclose.

An undercover agent infiltrated the group, becoming part of suspected ringleader David Brian Stone’s inner circle, making explosive devices under Stone’s supervision and attending meetings and special family events, authorities said.

They said the agent accompanied Stone and others to a planned meeting of militias in Kentucky in February. They were forced to turn back in Indianapolis because of bad weather, but the agent recorded a speech to those in the van by a speaker identified as Stone.


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