URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)– Militia group leader Emily Claire Hari was sentenced to 14 years in prison for domestic terrorism crimes.
Hari was sentenced for threats of violence, attempted arson, unlawful possession of a machine gun, and unlawful possession of a firearm as a felon. She previously pleaded guilty to all four charges.
The government said in 2017 Hari started a militia group nicknamed the “White Rabbits.” Michael McWhorter, Joe Morris, Ellis J. Mack, and Wesley Johnson were also part of this militia group.
In 2017, the group engaged in repeated acts of violence, which they referred to as “jobs.” They obtained materials to make bombs, provided weapons and uniforms to the militia, and assigned rank as if they were truly a military group.
The group acquired and assembled four shotguns and assault rifles, some of which were fully automatic. These weapons and thermite were stored in a locked safe at the militia’s “office” in Clarence, Ill.
Hari, McWhorter, Morris, and Johnson on November 7, 2017, planned to use a pipe bomb to set the Women’s Health Practice in Champaign, Illinois, on fire. However, the pipe bomb did not ignite and was safely recovered by law enforcement officers after a receptionist found it.
Then on December 16 of the same year, the militia traveled to Indiana to rob a Hispanic person they believed to be involved in drug trafficking. They wore their “White Rabbit” uniforms and pretended to be law enforcement executing a search warrant. They handcuffed and zip-tied the residents, causing harm to one person.
Two times in December of the same year, they traveled to several Walmart stores throughout Illinois to rob them. The militia, under Hari’s approval, entered the stores with weapons and confronted cashiers.
In January of 2018, Hari, McWhorter, and Morris attempted to sabotage railroad tracks near Effingham, Illinois, with a bomb. After the attempt, the group sent ransom emails demanding $190,000 in cryptocurrency or they would damage the railroad further.
February of the same year, they planted bomb-making materials, including a pipe bomb, on the property of a person in Clarence, Illinois. This attempt was to get this person in trouble with law enforcement prior to a court hearing for Hari. At the time, Hari was facing criminal charges for allegedly assaulting someone. Hari emailed an “anonymous tip” to federal authorities that there were explosive devices in a suitcase and gray bag in a shed. The FBI responded and found multiple explosive devices, and a pipe bomb attached to a green propane tank.
After all of this, the militia group thought the FBI might search their office and seize their weapons, so they moved the weapons to another militia member’s home. The FBI seized their machine guns, and then Hari, McWhorter, Morris, and Mack fled on foot hiding in the woods and abandoned barns. While in hiding they made a video requesting assistance from other militia members.
U.S. District Judge Michael M. Mihm found Hari’s crimes quite serious and wide-ranging and accepted the parties’ agreement of sentencing Hari to 14 years.
In December of 2020 after a jury trial, Hari was also found guilty of her charges back related to a firebombing of a Mosque in Minnesota. McWhorter and Morris were also involved. She was sentenced to 53 years for those charges.
McWhorter was sentenced to 15 years and 10 months in April, Morris was sentenced to 14 years and 2 months, and Mack was sentenced to 42 months (time served) for their participation in the crimes.
“Although the militia group started by Hari called itself the ‘Patriot Freedom Fighters,’ the members of the group convicted of federal crimes were not patriots but violent criminals,” said United States Attorney Gregory K. Harris. “Attacking innocent citizens and lawful facilities using threats and violence are not the acts of ‘patriots,’ and this conduct will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Once again, this case exemplifies the extraordinary investigative efforts of the FBI to bring individuals to justice who commit violent crimes.”
“Emily Claire Hari represents the very real threat posed by domestic violent extremists in the United States,” said FBI Springfield Field Office Special Agent in Charge David Nanz. “The FBI’s counterterrorism team is designed to combat this type of violence and is committed to prioritize and gather intelligence to continually assess the threat picture. The FBI’s focus has been and will remain keeping the American people safe from threats or acts of violence.”