Wire: 5 Miami Men Convicted in Plot to Blow Up Sears Tower, FBI Buildings
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, May 12, 2009 -- Newswires reported this afternoon that five men were convicted Tuesday of plotting to join forces with al-Qaida to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices in hopes of igniting an anti-government insurrection.
The jury in Miami acquitted another member of the so-called "Liberty City Six" in the sixth day of deliberations. Two previous trials ended in mistrials when jurors could not agree on the men's guilt or innocence.
The Associated Press reported that the men were arrested in June 2006 on charges of plotting terrorism with an undercover FBI informant they believed was from al-Qaida. Defense attorneys said terrorist talk recorded on dozens of FBI tapes was not serious and the men wanted only money.
AP reported the following details:
Ringleader Narseal Batiste, 35, was the only one convicted of all four terrorism-related conspiracy counts, including plotting to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to wage war against the U.S. Batiste, who was on the vast majority of hundreds of FBI audio and video tapes, faces up to 70 years in prison.The arrests were initially hailed as a major success by President George W. Bush's administration, an example of disrupting potential attacks at the earliest possible stages. But two previous juries struggled with the lack of solid evidence indicating the men took any steps to pull off such major mass assaults, such as possessing bomb-making manuals or building blueprints, AP said.
Batiste's right-hand man, 29-year-old Patrick Abraham, was convicted on three counts and faces 50 years behind bars. Convicted on two counts and facing 30 years are 24-year-old Burson Augustin, 25-year-old Rotschild Augustine and 33-year-old Stanley Grant Phanor. Naudimar Herrera, 25, was cleared of all four charges.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard set sentencing for July 26 for the five convicted men, most of whom are Haitian or have Haitian ancestry. They lived in Miami's downtrodden inner-city neighborhood known as Liberty City.
The jury endured a two-month trial, then had to restart deliberations last week after one juror was excused for illness and a second was booted off the panel for being uncooperative. After the verdicts were read, court security officials escorted the jury -- whose names were kept secret -- out of the building before they could be interviewed.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Source: 5 Miami men convicted of plot to topple Chicago's Sears Tower, bomb FBI offices; 1 acquitted
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