CHICAGO (WLS) -- The central Illinois men being held without bond on bomb plot charges are part of an anti-government militia group that "uses guerilla warfare tactics" to take back America.
During online videos that have been linked to the defendants, several masked men pledge allegiance to the "White Rabbit Three Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia."
According to federal investigators, the 47-year old ringleader Michael Hari enlisted two other residents of Clarence, Illinois--Michael McWhorter, 29 and Joe Morris, 22 in a bombing plot at two Midwestern locations. Last August the trio drove to Bloomington, Minnesota and blew up a mosque there, court records state. Prosecutors say McWhorter told officials the attack was aimed at scaring Muslims into leaving the U.S.
A second, similar device was found last November inside a women's clinic that conducts abortions in downstate Champaign. That bomb never detonated but was eventually traced to the Hari group, investigators said.
A fourth suspect-McWhorter's stepson Ellis Mack, 19-is also being held without bond on a charge of possessing a machine gun. Mack, McWhorter and Hari are scheduled to face preliminary hearings in federal court on Wednesday afternoon.
All four men are believed to have been involved in White Rabbit militia meetings at Hari's business in Clarence.
Following raids the past few months on several properties connected to the men, videos were posted describing the police actions and "sending out a request for more militia to come and help us take our town back." During raids that prompted that video post, authorities seized what appeared to be bomb-making materials and numerous guns.
The men in the videos, while partially masked, appear to include those who were arrested and now face federal charges in Illinois and Minnesota.
The videos are posted to a You Tube channel entitled "Illinois Patriot" and accuse the government of being "illegitimate."
"We need you to come and stand with us" states one of the speakers on video, encouraging militia members and other anti-government extremists that believe there is a conspiracy underway to take guns from Americans and enslave them-part of the so-called "Follow the White Rabbit" conspiracy theory.
The full name of their group, "White Rabbit Three Percent Illinois Patriot Freedom Fighters Militia" includes a reference to the apparently false factoid that only 3 percent of American colonists fought in the Revolution against the British government.
One White Rabbit Militia sect speaker encourages his brothers in arms. "Is there anything left that they could take from us?" the video talking head asks. "Oh, you say, 'We still have our guns.' Well what good are they if they don't use them. The country is turned into a police state."
Then, the man cautions: "I'm not saying go out and shoot someone...we are 100% against that kind of violence."
The group even shows off its own White Rabbit money-local currency issued by some residents of downstate Illinois-that features a depiction of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee.
As the I-Team reported last week, Hari was also bidding on construction of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico championed by President Trump.
According to one White Rabbit video: "We don't do terrorism. We don't do assassination. We don't murder policemen. That's not the kind of revolution this is. This is an armed resistance revolution."
The small band of anti-government radicals appears similar to a militia group known as the "Hutaree" that was planning to revolt against the government a decade ago. As the I-Team uncovered in 2010, Hutaree members in Indiana and Michigan underwent commando training in Michigan woodlands while preparing for an armed uprising. Most of the Hutarees were acquitted of the most serious charges against them. Several pleaded guilty to possessing a machine gun.
As do many militia groups, the Hutaree had an anti-government manifesto that outlined their positions and tactics. Similarly, there is "The White Rabbit Handbook" that proclaims "We Want Our Old America Back" encouraging a return to "the good old days."
According to the handbook, they are not a right wing group. "They are mainstream Americans of the good old days, purging the socialist, communist, nazi (sic), and feminist leaven from the land and returning it to self-government." Like rabbits, "They hit. They run. They hide."
Illinois bomb suspects burrow in White Rabbit Militia
An ABC7 I-Team Investigation