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Tag: kidnapping

FBI Arrives in Haiti to Help Negotiate for Release of 17 Missionaries Who Were Kidnapped

By Steve Neavling

FBI agents are in Haiti to help negotiate for the release of 16 American missionaries and one Canadian who were abducted by a gang Saturday. 

The agents arrived on Sunday, just hours after confirmation that 17 Christian missionaries, including five children and several elderly people, were abducted at a checkpoint Saturday, The Miami Herald reports.

“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the State Department said in a statement. “We have been in regular contact with senior Haitian authorities and will continue to work with them and interagency partners. We will provide additional information as we are able.”

The “400 Mawozo” gang is known for extorting businesses and kidnapping people for ransom. It’s responsible for about 80% of the kidnappings that occur in Haiti, according to Gédéon Jean, who runs the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince. 

In April, the gang abducted Roman Catholic clergy. 

“This is the type of kidnapping that 400 Mawozo do; we call it a collective kidnapping where they kidnap any entire bus or car,” Jean said.

FBI Agents Fatally Shoot Kidnapping Suspect, Rescue Boy at New Jersey Apartment

By Steve Neavling

FBI agents rescued a 17-year-old boy from a New Jersey apartment and fatally shot the man accused of kidnapping him early Wednesday. 

The raid was prompted by the abduction of a teenager who was reported missing after he failed to return home from work, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The boy’s father told authorities that he received a ransom demand. 

FBI agents came under fire after they tracked the boy and suspect to the New Jersey apartment. They returned fire, killing the suspect. 

The boy was unharmed. 

The FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office is investigating the kidnapping. 

Former FBI agent Releases Third True-Crime Book in G-Men Series

“The G-Men and The Heiress: The 1934 Alice Speed Stoll FBI Kidnapping Case” by William E. Plunkett

By Steve Neavling

Former FBI Special Agent William E. Plunkett just released his third book in his G-Men series, which brings to life the true story of a tormented, good-looking gangster who kidnapped a beautiful socialite from Louisville. 

In “The G-Men and The Heiress: The 1934 Alice Speed Stoll FBI Kidnapping Case,” Thomas Robinson Jr. masterminds the kidnapping of Alice Stoll and collects a $50,000 ransom, which he uses to fund a cross-country trip to Hollywood.

The story spans three decades and shows how Robinson dodged the death penalty and escaped from prison twice. 

Plunkett’s other books in the G-Men series are “A True FBI Crime Story of the 1930s” and “A 1929 FBI Washington Cold Case.”

Plunkett joined the FBI in 1982 and worked in Albany, Syracuse, Cincinnati, and Washington D.C. He was an original member of the Cincinnati FBI Joint Terrorism Working Group and the bureau’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which was created in the aftermath of 9/11. 

Biden Administration Calls on Iran for Answers on 14th Anniversary of Robert Levinson’s Disappearance

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while in Iran.

By Steve Neavling

On the 14th anniversary of Robert Levinson’s disappearance on Tuesday, President Biden’s administration called on Iran to return the former FBI agent to his family and provide answers about what happened to him. 

Levinson, whose 73rd birthday is today, disappeared while on Kish Island, a tourist spot off the coast of Iran. He worked part-time for the CIA, and U.S. officials believed he died while in Iranian custody. 

“For 14 years the Iranian government has denied the U.S. government, the FBI, and most importantly, the Levinson family any answers about the circumstances surrounding Bob’s abduction,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “The FBI continues to mourn the loss of our beloved friend and colleague, and the Levinson family continues to grieve the loss of their husband, father, and grandfather. It’s appalling that the Iranian government has yet to cooperate, and we, along with our interagency partners, remain resolute in our efforts to investigate and seek the truth of what happened to Bob.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Levinson’s family.

“I was honored to speak with the Levinson family yesterday,” said Blinken, according to a State Department release. “Since his abduction in 2007, Bob, a father and husband, has missed graduations, marriages and the birth of all but one of his grandchildren. Bob’s family continues to advocate for the answers about what happened after he went to Kish Island in Iran 14 years ago.”

Blinken added, “We call on the Iranian government to provide credible answers to what happened to Bob Levinson, and to immediately and safely release all U.S. citizens who are unjustly held captive in Iran.”

Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. “will remain resolute in our support to the Levinson family and our commitment to pursuing justice for Mr. Levinson and his family.”

“After 14 years and repeated, persistent efforts to secure Iran’s cooperation in locating Mr. Levinson, we are still without answers,” Psaki said. “Nevertheless, we will continue to demand answers and to hold Iran accountable for his abduction, detention, and probable death. We will not relent until all of our citizens who continue to be wrongfully detained in Iran and around the world, are returned to their families.”

Grand Jury Indicts 6 Men Accused of Plotting to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

Six suspects accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer.

By Steve Neavling

A federal grand jury has indicted six men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

The indictment comes more than two months after the FBI arrested the suspects, who face up to life in prison on one count of kidnapping conspiracy. 

No trial date has been set. 

The indictment sheds new light on the case. One of the suspects, Brandon Caserta, 32, of Canton Township, instructed his co-conspirators in an encrypted video message that “if they encountered police during reconnaissance, they should give the officers one opportunity to leave, and kill them if they did not comply,” according to a court filing. 

The other indicted men are Adam Fox, 37, of Potterville; Ty Garbin, 25, of Hartland Township; Kaleb Franks, 26, of Waterford Township; Daniel Harris, 23, of Lake Orion; and Barry Croft, 44, of Delaware. An additional six suspects in the kidnapping plot were charged in state court. 

According to new filings, investigators raided sites in multiple states, including a firing range in northern Michigan and homes in metro Detroit. 

Federal prosecutors say the men were anti-government extremists who were incensed over Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions. 

FBI Agent Wounded in Shootout in Louisiana ‘Expected to Make Full Recovery’

By Steve Neavling

An FBI agent is recovering after being wounded in a shootout with a murder and kidnapping suspect at a Louisiana motel last week.

The bureau on Friday declined to say whether the agent was still hospitalized, but said the unidentified agent “is in stable condition, in good spirits and is expected to make a full recovery,” NOLA.com reports

The agent, who worked out of the New Orleans Field Office, was among a coalition of local, state and federal law enforcement who tried to execute a search warrant on James David Hawley, 47, at a Pineville motel. After a several-hour standoff, the agent was struck by a bullet during a shootout with the suspect, the FBI said. 

Hawley is accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend, Thoue Nichole Bronowski, 45, after killing her mother Norma Matko, 69, of Belmont County. Authorities said he fled to Louisiana with Bronowski. 

The last agent from the New Orleans Field Office to be shot in the line of duty was wounded trying to arrest a kidnapping suspect at a Louisiana motel in May 2015. The agent survived. 

Men Charged in Plot to Kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer Also Mulled Televised Executions, Prosecutors Say

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Photo via state of Michigan.

By Steve Neavling

A militia group charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had devised alternative plans that included televised executions and burning down the state Capitol building while it was in session, prosecutors said.

The disturbing details, disclosed in new court filings and first reported by ABC7, allege the 14 men, many of whom belonged to a militia group “Wolverine Watchmen,” developed a “Plan B” and “Plan C” if the kidnapping plot failed to work. 

According to prosecutors, Plan B involved recruiting 200 combatants to storm the statehouse and stage televised executions of public officials.

“They were to take hostages, execute tyrants and have it televised,” court documents show. “It would take about one week and (said) that no one is coming out alive.”

Under Plan C, the extremists would set fire to the Capitol building while lawmakers were still in session, “leaving no survivors,” prosecutors said.

The men were charged last month in a plot that the FBI said it thwarted to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat whose coronavirus restrictions had incensed some conservatives, even as COVID-19 skyrocketed. 

“The group talked about creating a society that followed the U.S. Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient,” the affidavit reportedly said. “They discussed different ways of achieving this goal from peaceful endeavors to violent actions. At one point, several members talked about state governments they believed were violating the U.S. Constitution, including the government of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer. As part of that recruitment effort, [Adam] Fox reached out to a Michigan-based militia group.”

Six of the men were charged in federal court, and eight were charged in state court. 

Feds Mull Terrorism Charges in Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Investigtion

Alleged ringleader Adam Fox, 37.

By Steve Neavling

Federal prosecutors are considering terrorism charges against the six men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after investigators uncovered new evidence, including bomb components. 

In a court filing Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office requested a 40-day extension to seek indictments against the suspects to give investigators time to sift through the evidence. In addition to finding bomb parts, investigators must examine 13,000 pages of encrypted text messages, hundreds of hours of undercover audio recordings, and “voluminous” amounts of audio and video found on seized computers and cellphones.

“Firearms and explosive device components were recently recovered, and must be analyzed to determine whether charges under the National Firearms Act, explosives or anti-terrorism statutes are warranted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler wrote. 

No more details of the bomb components were disclosed. 

“Because of the imminent nature of the threat, law enforcement was obliged to arrest the subjects before this evidence could be processed,” Kessler wrote. 

In all, 14 men have been charged in connection with the case in state and federal court. The six charged in federal court are also accused of conspiring to spark a civil war by planning to attack police and the state Capitol. They face up to life in prison.