The August 2017 bombing of Bloomington’s Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center was one of the first “jobs” for an Illinois militia that came to be known as the “White Rabbits,” according to new federal charges filed Wednesday in Illinois.
Three of the four Clarence, Ill., men facing federal weapons charges in Illinois are also charged with arson in Minnesota in connection with the bombing. An Illinois grand jury on Wednesday returned a superseding indictment against all four alleged “White Rabbits” that added conspiracy and other charges.
The new indictment marks the first acknowledgment by the government of the militia’s name and alleges that the group assigned ranks to its members and stored weapons and explosives at a storefront in the tiny rural Illinois town.
Three of the men — Michael Hari, 47, Joe Morris, 22, and Michael McWhorter, 29 — allegedly drove a rented truck to Minnesota to bomb Dar Al-Farooq last year, soon after what is now being described as the militia’s founding. According to court papers, the group preferred to rent vehicles for this and other alleged crimes to avoid law enforcement.
The three — along with Ellis Mack, McWhorter’s 18-year-old stepson — were arrested in Illinois in March and charged simultaneously in Minnesota and Illinois. Last month, a Minnesota judge allowed prosecutors to extend their deadline until June to return an indictment in the mosque bombing case, after prosecutors and defense attorneys disclosed that the Illinois case will first be resolved before the men would be brought to Minnesota to face charges.
The new Illinois indictment now includes charges of conspiracy to “interfere with commerce by threats and violence,” otherwise known as the Hobbs Act, and attempted arson in connection with a failed attempt in November 2017 to bomb a central Illinois women’s health clinic that performs abortions.
Hari, 47, is also being charged with possessing a firearm as a felon. According to the indictment, agents seized four AR-style platform rifles without serial numbers and four shotguns from Hari.
The new charges do not disclose why the men allegedly decided to travel to Minnesota to carry out what has so far been identified as the only alleged crime committed by the White Rabbits outside of Illinois.
The group is also accused of robbing Illinois Walmart stores and attempting to rob suspected drug traffickers in December 2017, according to charges. In January, the White Rabbits also allegedly planted an “incendiary device” on railroad tracks near Effingham, Ill., and later tried to extort money from Canadian National Railway by threatening to bomb more tracks if the railroad did not pay a ransom. The group is also accused of planting bombs in the backyard shed of a Clarence resident.