Sunday, June 23, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: FBI’s Militia Infiltration Predated, Spanned Wider than Whitmer Kidnap Plot

'This case was obviously a lot bigger than what government is presenting to the public... '

(Ken Silva, Headline USAThe U.S. government claims it foiled the Wolverine Watchmen militia’s conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer thanks to Army veteran Dan Chappel, an FBI informant who purportedly prompted the bureau’s investigation when he notified law enforcement about the Watchmen’s violent online rhetoric in March 2020.

However, Headline USA has learned that another key FBI informant involved in the Whitmer kidnap sting operation, Stephen Robeson, was embedded in the midwestern militia movement since at least 2019. Moreover, Robeson apparently had a relationship with one of the alleged plotters dating back to January 2020—months before Chappel purportedly discovered the Watchmen and the bureau’s probe officially began.

These revelations come from independent journalist Christina Urso, who is working on a documentary about the Whitmer kidnap conspiracy entitled Kidnap and Kill: An FBI Terror Plot. Urso has access to unpublished information about the case, some of which Headline USA reviewed, including documentation showing that the FBI enlisted Robeson to be a confidential informant in October 2019.

Urso, who interviewed defendant Barry Croft for her documentary, also explained that Robeson had an established relationship with Croft from as early as January 2020.

“Stephen Robeson began contacting Barry almost daily in January 2020, posing as someone who was a friend of a friend. Barry was vulnerable at that point because he had a friend who passed away under what he perceived to be very suspicious circumstances. Robeson presented himself as someone who knew Barry’s friend and wanted to look into his death,” Urso said.

Among the overtures Robeson made to Croft was an invitation to attend the January 2020 Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Virginia, according to Urso. Croft declined because he didn’t live in Virginia and was busy supporting his fiancé and daughters as full-time truck driver, she said.

The revelations about Robeson being an informant since October 2019 and having a relationship with Croft since January 2020 indicates that government’s militia infiltration operation was much wider in scope than the Whitmer kidnap sting operation, said Urso. It also undermines government’s claim that its surveillance of militias in 2020 was in response to their violent rhetoric against lockdowns and other Covid-related policies, she said.

Robeson, who headed the Wisconsin chapter of the Three Percenters militia, was one of at least 12 informants the FBI used in its investigation.

Due to his criminal background and illegal antics throughout the investigation, Robeson ended up being one of the most prominent and controversial informants involved in the case. Defense attorneys say he helped entrap their clients by urging them to participate in the plot, setting up meetings and providing them with drugs and alcohol before recording their intoxicated anti-government rants.

Croft maintained his relationship with Robeson throughout 2020, until he was arrested in October of that year. After a jury couldn’t reach a verdict in his first trial, Croft was convicted along with co-defendant Adam Fox last August, receiving a 235-month prison sentence in December. Two other defendants struck plea deals, while two more were acquitted.

Some of Robeson’s recordings were used to convict Croft, who now has an appeal pending.

The juries in Croft’s trials never heard about his relationship with Robeson because the U.S. government pulled the informant from the case and threatened to charge him with perjury—tactics defense attorneys say were employed to keep Robeson off the stand to avoid discrediting government’s case. Robeson invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and never testified.

Urso, who has covered the case since its inception under the pen name Radix Verum, promises that numerous other revelations will be included in her forthcoming documentary.

“The documentary is hoping to expose that this was much bigger [than the Whitmer sting]. It was not just this one militia group,” she said, adding, “We’ve learned the FBI is operating Facebook pages for militia groups, and trying to funnel people into these organization, where they have informants in there radicalizing people to get them to do things people normally wouldn’t do.

“If you go through the records, they’re talking about having targets in 15 different states, so you have 15 different [FBI] field offices involved in this, which makes me believe that there had to have been some sort of authorization coming from a higher level of the FBI to coordinate this amount of resources,” she said.

“This case was obviously a lot bigger than what government is presenting to the public.”

Urso said a trailer will be released later this month, and that she hopes the full documentary will be published by year’s end. More information about the documentary can be found here.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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