By Rachelle Damico
DETROIT (Reuters) - A Midwestern militia group whose members are accused of plotting to murder police had a "kill list" that included current and former U.S. presidents, top government officials and members of Congress, an FBI agent testified on Tuesday in a federal trial.
The list from members of the group called the Hutaree was titled "Established Elite Still in Control" and included military officers, reporters and corporate executives, FBI agent Steve Haug said in federal court in Detroit.
Haug, who had gained access to the southern Michigan-based group by posing as a truck driver, said the list was circulated during the wedding of Hutaree leader David Brian Stone Sr. to Tina Stone. Haug served as best man at the wedding.
Seven members of the Hutaree, including Stone and his wife, face federal charges of sedition, the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and firearms offenses.
Defense attorneys have argued the group was merely engaging in angry expressions of free speech and did not intend to commit acts of terrorism. No attacks were carried out.
Also facing trial are David Brian Stone Sr.'s sons, David Brian Stone Jr. and Joshua Matthew Stone; Michael David Meeks; Thomas William Piatek; and Kristopher Sickles.
Prosecutors played a recording for jurors of a conversation at Stone's wedding in which Joshua John Clough, a Hutaree member who pleaded guilty in December to weapons charges, told Meeks it was "a whole complete kill list."
"Mike showed me a piece of paper, a list of names and groups," Haug said. "Michael gave me a copy of it."
Haug said his "date" for the wedding was a female FBI agent from another division. Prosecutors showed wedding photos of members posed in camouflage gear with AR-15 rifles, a civilian version of the military M-16 assault rifle.
At the wedding, David Stone Sr. told Hutaree members they needed to practice loading and unloading a van and establish a base camp where they could patrol the perimeter.
The trial is the latest in prosecutions aimed at what the government sees as a growing threat of violence from home-grown anti-government groups. In early February, the FBI warned that such groups posed an increasing threat to law enforcement.
The deadliest act of home-grown violence, the 1995 bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City, killed 168 people and injured hundreds. It was the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil before the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said last week that the number of hate and anti-government groups in the United States had continued to rise in 2011 fueled by racial tensions, conspiracy theories and anger over economic inequality.
Prosecutors contend the Hutaree had met regularly since 2008 for military style training and were preparing for an attack when authorities executed search warrants and swept them up in raids in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana in early 2010.
During their raids, federal agents seized machine guns, unregistered short-barrel guns, ammunition, explosive devices and materials that could be used to make bombs.
The jury trial before U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts started in mid-February and is expected to take up to eight weeks.
(Reporting by Rachelle Damico; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Eric Walsh)