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Man arrested in plot to kidnap Michigan governor previously profiled in Swedish newspaper

Posted at 5:27 AM, Oct 12, 2020

One of the men arrested for his involvement in a militia group's planned kidnapping of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was the subject of a feature story in a Swedish newspaper in June.

In a report originally published by Expressen on June 21, reporter Nina Svenberg and photographer Joel Marklund met the subject of their next story, 21-year-old Paul Bellar, at an anti-coronavirus lockdown rally in Lansing, Michigan dubbed "Judgment Day."

"(Bellar) spoke about the Boogaloo movement," said Svanberg, a U.S. correspondent for Expressen. "He said that they were a part of the Boogaloo movement and he also said, 'Well, I'm going to get in trouble for saying this.'"

After the rally, the journalists met at Bellar at his home in Milford, Michigan where Bellar showed off his weapons and talked about his views on the government.

"I feel like the American civilization has to know that it's going to possibly revolt against the tyrannical government," Bellar said during an interview with Svanberg at his home on May 14. "I feel people have had enough of it and they're willing to pick up arms for it."

"He said it's a tyranny," Svanberg said later. "He repeatedly talked about the system as a tyranny."

Svanberg also says he talked about his militia, which held training preparing for different scenarios.

"He even said at one point, 'We are not crazy people, we are not planning to burn things or something like that, we are just here to protect our country,'" Svanberg said.

However, according to the FBI and Michigan State Police, they were planning much more than that. Investigators allege Bellar was appointed "sergeant" of the "Wolverine Watchmen," an anti-government group conspiring to target law enforcement, attack the Capitol in Lansing and kidnap Whitmer.

"He talked about them communicating via encrypted chat groups," Svanberg said. "He pulled out his phone and said there were about 50 people in that chat group consisting of men and women, former veterans, all kinds of backgrounds."

A federal investigation, aided by two informants inside the group's encrypted chats, kept police up to date with the group's plans, movements and training.

"He said he had been followed by the police, he was aware that the police were watching him as he described it," Svanberg said. "His big fear was that the feds or the police would come knocking on his door, he said that was what he was expecting."

On Thursday, what Bellar said he was expecting happened. Bellar was arrested in South Carolina and now faces charges for weapons, gang membership and terrorism.

"He also said that his worst nightmare was to be described as a domestic terrorist and that the feds would come and take his guns because, and I quote, 'that won't end well,'" said Svanberg.

Now, Bellar is currently in the process of being extradited back to Michigan to face trial for those charges, which would carry a maximum of 42 years in prison.

To read Svanberg's story, click here.

This story was originally published by Brett Kast on WXYZ in Detroit.