Nine Hutaree Christian Militia members are pictured in a combination photo of these U.S. Marshals handouts
Nine Hutaree Christian Militia members are pictured in a combination photo of these U.S. Marshals handouts released March 30, 2010. Reuters

Seven members of a Christian militia group called the Hutaree began standing trial Monday on charges of plotting a violent rebellion. What is the Hutaree, and what are its members accused of doing?

Federal officials arrested nine members of the militia in a series of March 2010 raids in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. A grand jury indictment alleged that they had been stockpiling firearms and explosives and meeting since at least 2008 to train for an imminent battle with their enemies, which in this case appeared to be a sinister and repressive government.

The Hutaree's enemies include state and local law enforcement, who are deemed 'foot-soldiers' of the federal government, Federal law enforcement agencies and employees, participants in the 'New World Order,' and anyone who does not share in the Hutaree's beliefs, the indictment read.

Planned to Kill a Government or Law Enforcement Official

The indictment further alleges that members of the Hutaree had planned to provoke a response by killing a government official or law enforcement officer, after which they would attack the funeral with improvised explosive devices and then wage a protacted battle through guerilla combat techniques like ambushes and tripwire. David Brian Stone, who also went by the nickname Captain Hutaree, was secretly recorded saying gotta just start huntin' 'em.

It's your local PD [police department], morons, Stone said. You know where they live. I know where four county cops live. We can go burn their house down.

Members of the Hutaree appeared to be equipped to carry out the mission. Agents found a cache of weapons and parts for improvised explosive devices, and court documents allege that David Stone's son Justin capitulated after attempting to arm himself during a tense one day standoff. Officers also found uniforms, and the Hutaree's now defunct website details a hierarchy that includes ranks such as master gunner and radok.

The group was also imbued with a strong Christian piety and a sense of impending end times. Another section of the Hutaree web site mentioned unbelievers falling to the Anti-Christ's doctrine and embraced a millennial vision in which when [Jesus] comes over, trumpets blowing, and clouds flowing, the wise ones will come to him in the clouds and into heaven while others are denied salvation.

Part of Upsurge in Patriotic Militias

A 2010 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center identified the Hutaree's emergence as part of an upsurge in Patriot militias, groups that feared the rise of a tyrannical government bent on suppressing dissent or imposing a one-world order.

Although the Patriot movement included people formerly associated with racially based hate groups, it was above all animated by a view of the federal government as the primary enemy, along with a fondness for antigovernment conspiracy theories, the report's authors wrote.

Members of the militia have maintained their innocence and said the discussions of attacking law enforcement officers were nothing but idle talk.

I'm going to fight it tooth and nail, David Stone's wife and co-defendant, Tina Mae Stone, told the Associated Press during a break in jury selection. It was just a bunch of good ol' boys out to have fun. We did survival stuff. I did it mostly to spend time with my husband. People tell me, 'good luck.' I don't need luck. I've got God on my side.