The man who was a secret informant for the FBI in its efforts to take down a group accused of planning to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer testified in court against three of the suspects.
The informant only went by “Dan” in the Friday preliminary hearings for Pete Musico, 43; Joseph Morrison, 26; and Paul Bellar, 22, according to the Detroit Free Press. The three men were among a group of 14 who have been accused of targeting the Michigan governor over her restrictions that were put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Dan learned of the group, the Wolverine Watchmen, through Facebook, and it was suggested to him through the platform’s algorithm, he said.
“I was scrolling through Facebook one day, and they popped up as a suggestion post,” Dan said. “I clicked on the page, and it had a few questions to answer.”
Once he passed the group’s litmus test, he was told to download the encrypted messaging app called Wire so he could secretly communicate with the group. The app prohibits screenshots and would delete all the messages occasionally for secrecy purposes.
Dan approached a friend in law enforcement once he found out that the group was interested in harming police officers. The FBI then approached him, and he agreed to cooperate as an informant.
His time undercover included going to protest at the state Capitol and to a rural training area with members of the group. He testified that he, at some points, wore a wire and said his fear for his safety led him to selling his house once his address was exposed.
The FBI announced the arrests in October 2020.
The bureau became aware through social media in early 2020 that “a group of individuals were discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law-enforcement components,” according to an FBI affidavit.
One of the meetings Dan attended was in June 2020, during which Adam Fox, another person who was charged, said he needed “200 men” to storm the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, and take hostages, including Whitmer. They would try Whitmer for “treason” and would conduct the alleged operation before the November election, he said.
Members of the alleged plot conducted surveillance on Whitmer’s vacation home in August and September 2020.