A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the release of three individuals accused of crimes committed as part of the "Christian warrior" militia called Hutaree [militia website; CNN backgrounder]. Judge Victoria Roberts of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] ordered the release of the suspects, two men and one woman, after federal prosecutors withdrew their objections. Roberts originally granted bail [JURIST report] to all nine militia suspects, but the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] granted an emergency stay [JURIST report] blocking their release. The appeal on the release of the other six members is still pending. The nine members have been indicted [JURIST report] on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence in connection with a plan to kill Michigan law enforcement officers. The suspects being released will be monitored electronically and their freedom of movement will be severely restricted.
Militia groups such as the Hutaree are reportedly on the rise in the US. A recent report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center [advocacy website] suggests that a lack of regulation on the Internet [JURIST report] is fueling this increased prevalence. A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) [advocacy website; JURIST comment], released last year, noted that these groups are making a comeback [JURIST report] after declining in number for several years. The SPLC said that such groups are generally anti-tax, anti-immigration, and increasingly racially motivated since the election of the country's first African-American president, Barack Obama. The SPLC also warned that these groups could soon pose a security risk to the country, quoting one official as saying "[a]ll it's lacking is a spark. I think it's only a matter of time before you see threats and violence."
5/19/10: A fourth militia member was released [AP report] Wednesday.