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11 in ‘heavily armed’ fringe group arrested after standoff in Massachusetts

Eleven “heavily armed” members of a fringe group called Rise of the Moors were arrested on a Massachusetts highway Saturday following a bizarre nine-hour standoff with law enforcement that included hostage negotiators.

The incident unfolded in the wee hours of an otherwise quiet holiday weekend morning, shutting down I-95 in both directions along with a local commuter train service, and leading to shelter-in-place orders in two local communities north of Boston.

Nobody was harmed during the dramatic ordeal. Shelter orders in the towns of Reading and Wakefield were lifted late Saturday morning.

 “We have several armed persons accounted for at this scene on Rt 95. They are refusing to comply with orders to provide their information and put down their weapons,” the Massachusetts State Police said on Twitter at 5:37 a.m.

The men are allegedly from a fringe group called “Rise of the Moors.”

A state trooper found the men in a breakdown lane on the side of the interstate refueling their vehicles around 1:30 a.m. and pulled over to assist them, State Police Colonel Christopher Mason told reporters.

The occupants of the vehicle were dressed in military-style tactical gear. Some had long rifles, others side pistols, according to reports. Additional police were called in to assist the first officer when his requests for documentation were not met. The men were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine “for training,” police told reporters.

Two men were initially arrested. Others fled into the woods, while some remained inside their vehicles. Hostage negotiators worked to get both groups of suspects to surrender peacefully, Mason said at a press conference.

The men claim “to be from a group that does not recognize our laws.”

“We were afraid so we got out with our arms,” one man claiming to be a member of Rise of the Moors, said in a YouTube video apparently recorded on the side of the highway. The man, who did not identify himself, was dressed in what appeared to be combat gear. 

The nature of the group is unclear as police continue to investigate.

“We’re not anti-government. We’re not anti-police. We’re not sovereign citizens. We’re not black identity extremists,” the man in the video said. “We haven’t violated any laws.”

The men claim “to be from a group that does not recognize our laws,” the Wakefield Police Department said in a statement. “No threats were made, but these men should be considered armed and dangerous.”

The standoff shutdown a section of Interstate 95 near Wakefield, Mass.

The FBI Boston Division told reporters it is “fully engaged” with its state and local partners, but said it had no further comment on the situation. 

Mason told reporters he was not familiar with the group before Saturday.

“Their self-professed leader wanted very much known their ideology is not anti-government,” Mason said. “Our investigation will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is.”

The group’s website describes them as “Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our Elders.”

Eleven “heavily armed” members of a fringe group called Rise of the Moors were arrested on a Massachusetts highway Saturday following a bizarre nine-hour standoff with law enforcement that included hostage negotiators.

The incident unfolded in the wee hours of an otherwise quiet holiday weekend morning, shutting down I-95 in both directions along with a local commuter train service, and leading to shelter-in-place orders in two local communities north of Boston.

Nobody was harmed during the dramatic ordeal. Shelter orders in the towns of Reading and Wakefield were lifted late Saturday morning.

 “We have several armed persons accounted for at this scene on Rt 95. They are refusing to comply with orders to provide their information and put down their weapons,” the Massachusetts State Police said on Twitter at 5:37 a.m.

The men are allegedly from a fringe group called “Rise of the Moors.”

A state trooper found the men in a breakdown lane on the side of the interstate refueling their vehicles around 1:30 a.m. and pulled over to assist them, State Police Colonel Christopher Mason told reporters.

The occupants of the vehicle were dressed in military-style tactical gear. Some had long rifles, others side pistols, according to reports. Additional police were called in to assist the first officer when his requests for documentation were not met. The men were traveling from Rhode Island to Maine “for training,” police told reporters.

Two men were initially arrested. Others fled into the woods, while some remained inside their vehicles. Hostage negotiators worked to get both groups of suspects to surrender peacefully, Mason said at a press conference.

“We were afraid so we got out with our arms,” one man claiming to be a member of Rise of the Moors, said in a YouTube video apparently recorded on the side of the highway. The man, who did not identify himself, was dressed in what appeared to be combat gear. 

The nature of the group is unclear as police continue to investigate.

“We’re not anti-government. We’re not anti-police. We’re not sovereign citizens. We’re not black identity extremists,” the man in the video said. “We haven’t violated any laws.”

The men claim “to be from a group that does not recognize our laws,” the Wakefield Police Department said in a statement. “No threats were made, but these men should be considered armed and dangerous.”

The FBI Boston Division told reporters it is “fully engaged” with its state and local partners, but said it had no further comment on the situation. 

Mason told reporters he was not familiar with the group before Saturday.

“Their self-professed leader wanted very much known their ideology is not anti-government,” Mason said. “Our investigation will provide us more insight into what their motivation, what their ideology is.”

The group’s website describes them as “Moorish Americans dedicated to educating new Moors and influencing our Elders.”

Per: NYP

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