DETROIT — Rough winter weather forced members of a Midwest Christian militia to cut short a road trip to rally like-minded people in Kentucky, so David Brian Stone, suspected of being the group's ringleader, used time in the van to hone his speech on the "New World Order" he feared, authorities said Wednesday.
"We are the American military. We outnumber them," a speaker identified as Stone says on an audiotape recorded by an undercover FBI agent.
"People should not be afraid of the government. The government should fear the people."
The agent, who infiltrated the Hutaree group and had built explosives under Stone's direction, accompanied Stone and others as they tried to attend a Feb. 6 meeting of militias in Kentucky, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet said during a detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
"Now it's time to strike and take our nation back so we will be free of tyranny," Stone, 44, of Clayton, Mich., says on the recording played in court.
"The war will come whether we are ready or not."
Stone and eight others suspected of being Hutaree members, self-proclaimed "Christian warriors" who trained themselves in paramilitary techniques in preparation for a battle against the Antichrist, are charged with seditious conspiracy, or plotting to levy war against the United States. They were arrested after a series of weekend raids across the Midwest.
Prosecutors say the group planned to make a false 911 call, kill responding police officers, then set off a bomb at the funeral to kill many more. An indictment said that after the attacks, the group planned to retreat to "rally points" protected by trip-wired explosives for a violent standoff with law enforcement personnel.
Waterstreet said as the van carrying the militia members returned to rural Lenawee County in February, it passed a car on the side of the road with a Hudson, Mich., police car behind it, and Stone said, "We're going to pop him - guaranteed."
Several defense attorneys objected to Waterstreet's testimony, arguing there was no opportunity to cross-examine the undercover agent.
"All they're saying is my client has an opinion and knows how to use his mouth," Stone's lawyer William Swor said before Waterstreet played the tape. Swor later said Stone's speech was about defending against foreigners and not making war against the U.S. government.
Federal officials said they began monitoring the militia last summer and believed an attack was planned for April. Waterstreet said Hutaree was planning training that month where they would kill people that "came upon them." Court documents said the undercover agent and a cooperating witness were part of the federal investigation .
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Eight suspects were arraigned Wednesday in Detroit. U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Donald A. Scheer entered not guilty pleas on behalf of seven who stood mute to the charges, including David Brian Stone. Stone's eldest son, 21-year-old Joshua Matthew Stone, pleaded not guilty.
Detention hearings for six defendants followed, but the judge didn't issue a ruling. Two more were scheduled for today. The ninth suspect appeared in court in Indiana, but no plea was entered.