Attempted arson charges handed down in bombing investigation

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Michael Hari, 47 Michael Hari, 47
Michael McWhorter, 29 Michael McWhorter, 29

URBANA, Ill. (WAND) - Four men accused of trying to bomb a Champaign health clinic are facing new charges.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office says 47-year-old Michael Hari, 29-year-old Michael McWhorter and 22-year-old Joe Morris are now charged with attempted arson. They’re accused of trying to bomb Champaign’s Women’s Health Practice on Nov. 7, 2017.

Prosecutors also say the four men violated what’s called the Hobbs Act by conspiring to interfere with commerce through threats and violence. They stand accused of meeting, through a militia group called “White Rabbits”, in Clarence to plan “jobs” against central Illinois businesses. Investigators say those plans were created between August 2017 and March 10, 2018.  

The superseding charges still accuse all three men, including 18-year-old Ellis Mack, of possessing machine guns.

The release says the men managed to get their hands on materials for explosives, weapons and uniforms, and gave ranks to members of a group called “White Rabbits”. Prosecutors say they kept those items in a Clarence building.

Prosecutors named a list of attacks they say the “White Rabbits” were planning, including: 

  • Attempting to rob Walmart stores in Watseka on Dec. 4, 2017, and Mt. Vernon on or near Dec. 17, 2017, and potentially other locations
  • Planning to rob people who take part in drug trafficking in Ambia, Ind., on or near Dec. 16, 2017
  • Attempting to damage railroad tracks near Effingham with an explosive on Jan. 7, then threatening to do it again if the Canadian National Railway wouldn’t pay a ransom
  • Scheming to plant materials related to making explosives on the property of someone else in Clarence on Feb. 8, with the goal of making people suspicious of that person instead of them

The men are expected to be in to appear in federal court in Urbana for arraignment at a to-be-determined date. They’re in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The News-Gazette reports Hari, Morris and McWhorter will also face charges related to the bombing of Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn. In 2017. Prosecutors say McWhorter threw a pipe bomb into that building on Aug. 5.

Minnesota prosecutors plan to try the men after the Illinois case ends. 

NOTE: WAND-TV still does not have a mug shot for Joe Morris, 22. 

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