Four Illinois men have been arrested on federal charges and authorities say three of them are suspected of taking part in the bombing and attempted bombing of a Minnesota mosque and an Illinois women’s health center last year. No one was injured in either incident.
Michael Hari, 47, a former sheriff’s deputy who was convicted of kidnapping his daughters and taking them to a Mennonite community in Central America more than 10 years ago, is accused of being the leader of a group that also includes Joe Morris, 22; Michael McWhorter, 29; and Ellis Mack, 18, all of Clarence, Illinois.
In YouTube videos, Hari called the group the “White Rabbit Three Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia.” White rabbit appears to be a reference to the “Follow the White Rabbit,” conspiracy theory, which you can read about here. Three percenters is a reference to the claim that only 3 percent of colonists fought against the tyrannical British government during the American Revolution and it is a term often used by anti-government milita groups.
The four men were charged Tuesday with possession of a machine gun in Illinois, federal prosecutors there say. Hari, McWhorter and Mack were also charged with arson, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Minnesota said in a press release. Mack, who is McWhorter’s stepson, is not facing charges in connection to the bombing and attempted bombing.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton called the bombing at the Bloomington mosque, the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center, an act of terrorism. In the Indiana incident, authorities say a pipe bomb was found thrown through a window into a surgical room at the women’s health center, but it did not detonate.
The four men remain in federal custody. Hari and Morris appeared in federal court Tuesday, while McWhorter and Mack will make their first appearances at a later date. It is not clear if they have hired attorneys and they could not be reached for comment.
Here’s what you need to know about Hari, McWhorter, Morris and Mack:
1. McWhorter Told the FBI the Men Wanted to ‘Scare’ Muslims Out of the Country & the Bombing Was Meant to Show Them ‘You’re Not Welcome Here, Get the F*ck Out’
The FBI has connected Michael Hari, Mark McWhorter and Joe Morris to the bombing of the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, on August 5, 2017, and the attempted bombing of the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign, Illinois, on November 7, 2017, according to court documents.
According to the FBI, an explosive device was thrown through the window of the mosque about 5 a.m. Five people were inside the building, but none were injured, though the blast did cause extensive damage. A witness said he exited the mosque after prayer and heard glass breaking while walking to his car. He looked up and saw a man running from the building to a truck. He then saw the truck leaving at a high rate of speed. The explosion was captured on security cameras inside the building.
On November 7, an employee of the Women’s Health Practice said she went to work and found a broken window, glass on the floor and a device, which appeared to be an explosive device, on the inside of a surgical room. The Women’s Health Practice provides women’s medical services, including abortions, the FBI said. Police responded and the device, a “segment of PVC pipe with a plastic cap on one end and duct tape over the other end, was rendered safe. Inside the device was thermite, a pyrotechnic compound, along with a magnesium strip. Investigators believe the device was designed to burn and noted it was located in a surgical room that contained oxygen tanks.
Investigators received tips from two confidential informants that led them to Hari and the other men. FBI agents interviewed McWhorter on March 10 and he admitted to his participation in the bombing and attempted bombing, according to court documents.
McWhorter told the FBI that it was Hari’s idea to target the mosque. McWhorter said they weren’t trying to kill anyone, but wanted to “scare them out of the country,” referring to Muslims, according to court documents. He also said the bombing was meant to “show them, ‘hey, you’re not welcome here, get the f*ck out.'”
You can read the criminal complaint below:
“Although the investigation is ongoing, it is important that the public be made aware that these individuals have been apprehended and are charged federally with the bombing in Bloomington,” Greg Brooker, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota, said at a press conference. “That bombing that took place last summer was a tragedy for all Minnesotans, and from the beginning, it has become a top priority for federal and local law enforcement and remains so today.”
The bombing caused thousands of dollars in damage, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“This is definitely a relief that this case is finally to conclusion and those assailants-slash-suspects are apprehended and no longer a threat to our community,” Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of CAIR-Minnesota, told The Associated Press.
2. Hari, Who Ran for Ford County Sheriff in 1998 as a Libertarian, Received Probation for Abducting His Daughters in a Case That Was Featured on ‘Dr. Phil’
Hari worked as a Ford County sheriff’s deputy for about 18 months and previously owned a gun store in Paxton, Illinois, according to the Ford County Record. He unsuccessful ran for Ford County Sheriff in 1998 as a libertarian candidate, the newspaper reported.
Hari was a member of the Old German Baptist Brethran, a denomination that wears the plain cloths of the Amish, but allows for more modern amenities, he told the Chicago Tribune. He made national headlines in 2005 and 2006 when he fled to Mennonite communities in Mexico and Belize during a custody dispute with his ex-wife, taking his two young daughters with him. The story was featured on several episodes of the “Dr. Phil Show,” and he eventually returned to the U.S. with his daughters. The reunion and an interview featuring Hari and his ex-wife was recorded by “Dr. Phil.”
A jury found him guilty of child abduction in 2006, according to The News-Gazette. He faced up to 3 years in prison, and prosecutors asked for a sentence of 6 months, but he received only 30 months of probation.
3. The Men Posted Videos on YouTube Claiming the Feds Were Taking Over Clarence After a Raid Following a Tip From Hari That His Neighbor Had Explosives
Hari was arrested in July 2017 in Ford County, Illinois, and charged with assaulting his neighbor, according to the Ford County Record.
Hari was arrested by the FBI on March 13 while he was traveling to a court appearance in Ford County in the assault case.
According to court documents, Hari tried to frame his neighbor in February 2018 to make him look bad before his upcoming court appearance in that case. He and the other men planted explosives in a suitcase and a bag on the neighbor’s property in Clarence, the FBI says. Hari then sent a tip to ATF about the explosives. FBI agents searched the neighbor’s property, but eventually determined it was Hari who had sent the tip. McWhorter told the FBI that Hari and Morris planted the explosives on Hari’s neighbor’s property to get him in trouble prior to court appearances in Hari’s assault case.
After the FBI searched the neighbor’s property following Hari’s tip, the group posted videos on their “Illinois Patriot” YouTube page claiming that the federal government was taking over the ton of Clarence. In the videos, a man, possibly Hari, is seen wearing a black ski mask that covers all but his eyes:
Hari self-published a guide to being in the White Rabbit militia on Amazon, started a “gold-backed currency” called “White Rabbit Money” and also posted a video explaining how to become part of the group:
The group’s channel also includes several videos attacking the Illinois Department of Children and Families, claiming they are killing kids and tearing apart families. The final video posted to the channel claims that they are experts on helping people with DCFS issues.
“Do you need help with DCFS trouble? We can help you for free! Free witnesses/advocates for DCFS interview, meeting, home visit or other appointment. Our specialists know your rights. Don’t let your children become a DCFS statistic,” the video description states.
Just hours before they were arrested, Hari posted a plea for help on a militia message board.
“We are planning a protest of the FBI and local law enforcement abuse of the people in Clarence, Illinois (called the Clarence Crisis). We would plead for your participation. This action violated nearly all the people’s constitutional rights. The depth of the stress and suffering of the families here is difficult to put into words. You may get some idea from watching the videos below. It has been absolute terror for families and children. We’d like to tie the protest at Clarence to the Deep State activities such as mass data collection and the attempt of the FBI to wiretap the Trump campaign and interfere in the election,” the Monday night post on MyMilitia.com said. “I have been in the freedom movement a long time. I was a 1998 LP candidate for Sheriff, served on the Ford County Board of Assessments as a Libertarian, and I was a Waco protestor. I think we’ve never come to such a time of crisis as this. Can we get your support to come out and protest Saturday at 1 pm? We plan to cook out and serve food. Please come and let the FBI know that breaking in doors, coercing searches and seizures, wiretaps, and other such action is not acceptable in America. We are desperately hoping for some size to the crowd. It’s for the cause of liberty, but also for the physical safety of the suffering people in Clarence who were the victims of this lawlessness.”
A protest had been planned for Saturday, March 17, according to the post.
4. Hari Launched a ‘Global Security Firm’ & Was Bidding to Build Trump’s Mexican Border Wall With a Plan to Make It a Tourist Attraction Like the Great Wall of China
Hari has recently drawn attention to himself after submitting one of about 200 bids to build President Donald Trump’s proposed Mexican border wall. He started a “global security firm,” called Crisis Resolution Security Services Inc. to make the bid. You can watch their video presentation on the project above.
“We would look at the wall as not just a physical barrier to immigration but also as a symbol of the American determination to defend our culture, our language, our heritage, from any outsiders,” Hari told the Chicago Tribune in April 2017.
He said his proposal would include a narrow pedestrian roadway in between two walls that could be a tourist attraction like the Great Wall of China.
“They can use it for patrolling, but it’s more for the public,” he told the Tribune. “People can go up there, walk it or bicycle it. We’re probably the only ones who have submitted a proposal making it recreational.”
Hari told the Tribune he went to graduate school for criminal justice at the University of Central Texas near the border, where his mother’s family lived, and took some classes in security barriers and construction. Hari said his experience in Belize, where he fled with his daughters, gives him a unique perspective.
“I was an illegal alien for almost a year in Belize,” Hari told the Tribune. “I understand why people break the law. I have a great deal of compassion for people in this situation.”
5. McWhorter & Mack Told the FBI That the Men Posed as Police Officers to Rob a ‘Drug Dealer’ in Indiana & Also Committed 3 Walmart Robberies
Mack and McWhorter told the FBI that the four men also committed a series of crimes in Indiana and Illinois, according to court documents obtained by Heavy. It is not clear if they will be facing charges in connection to those incidents.
McWhorter told the FBI that in December 2017, the men went to the home of an alleged “Hispanic drug dealer” because they thought they could steal cash from him, according to the criminal complaint, which you can read below:
They posed as police officers executing a search warrant. They were armed with “automatic weapons.” McWhorter said they did not find any cash. The FBI said the men also took part in three Walmart robberies in Illinois.
McWhorter and Mack were reported missing by family members in February, but the FBI say they are believed to have been in hiding with Hari and Morris during that time.