Mentality of the Hutaree militia group

Update: May 13th, 2011

The Associated Press reports a competency hearing has been scheduled for Hutaree member, Jacob Ward, after prosecutors stated he might not be competent to stand trial.

So what goes into the thinking of people who take their views and values to the extreme?

NBC25 spoke with two experts about the inner workings of violent groups.

The Hutaree group calls itself a Christian organization that defends the Constitution with a militia-mentality.

Experts say, they often start out with legitimate, even noble purposes whether they be religious, political, or both.

Dr. Gerald Peterson, a psychology professor at Saginaw Valley State University, says "They often share a kind of disenfranchisement with what's going on in the country. So they're upset about particular kinds of things that might be happening. The economic turmoil, things of that sort and then they find a way to share some of their values with like-minded folks."

Dr. Jack Kay, provost of Eastern Michigan University and militia expert, says "Most of the militia groups are truly folks who have a strong belief in survivalism, who believe they need to be prepared to live off the land. They need to be able to defend their property."

Experts say, in rare circumstances, things can get extreme. Peterson says, "They tend to magnify their initial tendencies, their initial leanings in one direction, could be liberal or conservative."

Over time, experts say, their fire of philosophy gets more intense and boils over.

Kay says, "It's a pretty scary operation this group was planning on carrying out."

Federal investigators say, the Hutaree group planned on killing a police officer and then bombing that officer's funeral.

Experts say, the public needs to resist the tendency to lump the Hutaree group with all other militias.

Kay says, "These are folks that are sincere, but I think they need feedback about Christianity. They need feedback about American values and often, if they had a legitimate way of expressing their frustrations, that would be best for them and us."

Experts say, thanks to police surveillance, the Hutaree group's plan was not carried out.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks hate and extreme groups.

It says, right now, 932 known hate-groups are operating in the U.S.

Its research says the expansion of these groups, both extreme and non-extreme, has spiked since the presidency of Barack Obama.