"They prayed. They exercised. They were trying to get their minds right," said Marlene Phanor, sister of Stanley Grant Phanor, 31, one of the men charged. "These claims are completely false."

Said Minerva Batiste, 34, the alleged ringleader's wife: "He's a very honest man, a hard worker. He taught all these young men a trade so they could live and make money instead of choosing what they did before they met us. He is a Christian. He grew up in the faith. He taught those children the Bible."

AUDIO: THE MIAMI 7 - CNN Wolf Blitzer & Lou Dobbs

Terror Storm
The just-released offering from Alex Jones exposing the phony terrorism herding techniques employed by our so-called representatives in government to further their agenda of control through enslavement.

 Profiles Of Miami Terror Suspects
(CBS4 News) MIAMI Some were found in an unassuming low-income neighborhood in what some thought was an abandoned warehouse. Federal agents say they were terrorists planning on blowing up several US buildings. So our staff researched the backgrounds of the seven terror suspects arrested for plotting terrorism attacks out of Miami's Liberty City on Thursday. These are the results we came up with:

NARSEAL BATISTE – Also known as Brother Naz or Prince Manna. He's considered the leader of the group.
He is 32-years-old and has several listed addresses from Miami to Louisiana. He doesn’t have a criminal background. He is also listed as the leader of the Morning Star Worship Center in Louisiana. His current listed address is 15201 Memorial Highway #106 in North Miami-Dade.

PATRICK ABRAHAM - Also known as Brother Pat.
Not much information was available on this 39-year-old suspect, other than that he has kept residences in both New York and Orlando. His listed address was 2837 L B McLead Road Apt. B in Orlando.

STANLEY GRANT PHANOR - Also known as Brother Sunni.
He’s had several listings of addresses throughout Miami and Tallahassee. He was already in custody for violation of probation on charges of carrying a concealed weapon. His license was suspended or revoked in Broward back in 1996. His recent address was 435 NW 45th Street in Miami.

NAUDIMAR HERRERA – Also known as Brother Naudy.
This 22-year-old has no known criminal record and has had addresses listed in Miami. His last listed address is 11 NE 44th Street in Miami.

BURSON AUGUSTIN - Also known as Brother B.
This 21-year-old has lived throughout the Miami area. We could not find an employment or criminal record on him.
His last listed address is 14420 NE 6th Ave Apt. 203 in North Miami.

LYGLENSON LEMORIN - Also known as Brother Levi or Brother Levi-El. The 31-year-old has lived throughout Miami, but his last listed address is in Atlanta, the place of his arrest Thursday.
He carried a concealed weapons permit and his license was either suspended or revoked in Broward County back in 1997. He also had an application to work as a security officer denied. Lemorin's last listed address is: 400 NW 45th Street in Miami.

ROTSCHILD AUGUSTINE - Also known as Brother Rot.
We were unable to track down any history on him.

'Never any imminent danger'


Washington Post

Terror Suspects Had No Explosives and Few Contacts
Sat Jun 24, 2006 14:12

Terror Suspects Had No Explosives and Few Contacts
Sears Tower Plan Never Finished, Authorities Say

By Peter Whoriskey and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, June 24, 2006; A03

MIAMI, June 23 -- Federal authorities announced charges here Friday against seven men they described as "a homegrown terrorist cell" that planned to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and other buildings. But officials conceded that the group never had contact with al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups and had not acquired any explosives.

The group, which operated from a small, warehouse-like building in Miami's impoverished Liberty City neighborhood, adhered to a vague and militant Islamic ideology, claimed the U.S. government had no authority over it, and was led by a charismatic Haitian American named Narseal Batiste, according to officials and the four-count indictment. All but one of the members were citizens or legal residents of the United States.

The case underscores the murkiness that has been common to many of the government's terrorism-related prosecutions since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, cases that often hinge on ill-formed plots or debatable connections to terrorism. It is also the latest in a series of FBI-run stings involving informants or government agents who pose as terrorists to build a case.

The indictment, which charges the men with seeking support from al-Qaeda to wage a "ground war" on the United States, is based primarily on Batiste's interactions with an unidentified government informant who posed as an al-Qaeda "representative" and discussed plans for bombings and assaults on the Sears Tower, the FBI office in Miami and other targets. Batiste and the six others also allegedly swore an oath of loyalty to al-Qaeda during meetings with the informant, according to the charges.

"On or about December 16, 2005, Narseal Batiste provided the 'al Qaeda representative' (actually the FBI informant) with a list of materials and equipment needed in order to wage jihad, which list included boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios and vehicles," the indictment said. The indictment said the group's aim was to " 'kill all the devils we can' in a mission that would 'be just as good or greater than 9/11.' "

But officials said the plot never progressed beyond the early planning stages and the group had no known contact with al-Qaeda. Batiste allegedly recorded video of the U.S. courthouse and other federal buildings in Miami as part of a casing operation, but the camera was provided by the government informant, the indictment said.

Deputy FBI Director John S. Pistole said at a news conference in Washington that the talk of attacking the 110-story Sears Tower -- the tallest building in the United States -- was "aspirational rather than operational." He said none of the men appeared on U.S. terrorism watch lists.

But Pistole and other U.S. officials said aggressive policing and early arrests were necessary to ensure that potential terrorist attacks -- no matter how improbable they may seem -- are thwarted. Prosecutors say that the group's alleged actions, including the video recordings and the requests for weapons and explosives, amounted to overt acts that can be prosecuted under federal anti-terrorism laws.

"Our philosophy is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible, because we don't know what we don't know about a terrorism plot, and that once we have sufficient information to move forward with the prosecution, that's what we do," Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said at the Washington news conference.

Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert who heads the Washington office of the Rand Corp., said that the Miami plot appears to be "embryonic at best" but that "amateur terrorists can kill as effectively as the professional kind."

"It seems clear that their ambitions were serious; what's not clear is whether they had any real capabilities to pull it off," Hoffman said. "This is the difficult balance that we're trying to strike between being vigilant and not overreacting and equating this with 9/11 or something."

The group came to the attention of authorities when its members began to seek the aid of foreign agents who could help them, federal officials said at a Miami news conference. One of the people the group sought aid from tipped terrorism investigators. A federal informant then presented himself to the group as an al-Qaeda representative, officials said.

On Dec. 16, 2005, Batiste met in a hotel room with the informant and, around the same time, said he was trying to build an "Islamic Army" to wage jihad, according to the indictment. He also asked for boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles and $50,000 in cash.

But the suspects received little other than military boots and the video camera from the false al-Qaeda representative, according to the indictment. By May, the indictment suggests, the plan had largely petered out because of organizational problems.

Batiste appeared in federal court in Miami on Friday along with four other defendants who had been arrested during the FBI raids Thursday: Patrick Abraham, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin and Rotschild Augustine. Another defendant, Lyglenson Lemorin, was arrested in Atlanta, while the seventh, Stanley Grant Phanor, was already in custody on a probation charge.

Five of the men are U.S. citizens. Abraham is a Haitian illegally in the country, and Lemorin is a Haitian with legal residency here, officials said. At least six of the seven appear to have faced criminal charges before, according to records, for marijuana possession, battery, assault and concealed weapons.

Phanor had worked in construction, his family said, and took up studying Islam at the warehouse-like building a year ago. He called it "the temple."

"He does not have the heart to kill people," his disbelieving mother, Elizene Phanor, said, falling to her knees. "I swear to God."

The men gathered daily at the building, neighbors said. It used to be a sandwich shop, but less than a year ago the men moved in and remodeled, a neighbor said.

The men sported a variety of dress -- sometimes they were seen in black fatigues, sometimes in ski masks, sometimes in fezzes and dashikis -- and at one point they arranged flags from a number of nations, including Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba, around the building, according to neighbors.

They were not well funded: Neighbors said the men drove old cars and some of them made money by selling shampoo and hair tonic on the street. At Friday's hearing, the defendants said they were self-employed, and all qualified to be represented by a public defender. Batiste, who did stucco work, told the judge he made about $30,000 a year.

"We used to wonder, 'What are they doing? Who are they?' " said Babalu Nesbitt, 67, an immigrant from the Bahamas who collects cans for recycling for a living and who lives close to the building. "But they were the kind that only wanted to talk to their own."

They held readings of the Koran at times, and at others could be seen practicing martial arts outside. After Hurricane Wilma knocked out the electricity in the area for days last fall, the group passed out water from a silver van, some neighbors recalled.

Christopher Johnson, 37, a bodyguard and former Navy SEAL, said he recalled watching the martial arts they were using and being surprised that it seemed to be less about self-defense and more about attack. "A little bell went off," he said. "I thought, 'There's got to be a bigger purpose.' But I let it ride."

In Chicago, Police Superintendent Philip J. Cline told reporters that Batiste used to live in Chicago and was once arrested on a misdemeanor property damage charge. But he said the Miami group never came close to mounting an attack there.

"There was never any imminent danger to the Sears Tower or Chicago," Cline said.

Eggen reported from Washington. Staff writer Peter Slevin in Chicago and researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.

Seven indicted in alleged plot against Sears Tower, other U.S. buildings

WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Friday that seven young men arrested in Miami were part of a group of "homegrown terrorists" who sought to work with al-Qaida but ended up consorting instead with a law enforcement informant.

"They were persons who for whatever reason came to view their home country as the enemy," Gonzales said at a news conference at the Justice Department, where he discussed the purported plot against the Sears Tower in Chicago and a federal building in Miami.

The informant was described in a Justice Department release as "an individual co-operating with law enforcement, who posed as a member of al-Qaida"

The seven individuals - ranging in age from 22 to 32 - were indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami and taken into custody Thursday when authorities swarmed a warehouse in the Liberty City area.

The indictment also alleges plans to blow up a federal building in Miami in conjunction with the al-Qaida terrorist network.

The seven were expected to appear in court in Miami later Friday.

The alleged terrorists - five U.S. citizens, a legal immigrant from Haiti and a Haitian national who was in this country illegally - took an oath to al-Qaida and sought help from someone they believed was a member of the terrorist organization.

"The convergence of globalization and technology has created a new brand of terrorism," Gonzales said. "Today terrorist threats come from smaller more loosely defined cells not affiliated with al-Qaida but who are inspired by a violent jihadist message, and left unchecked these homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al-Qaida."

Gonzales outlined the contents of an indictment handed up Thursday, which identified Narseal Batiste as having recruited and trained others beginning in November 2005 "for a mission to wage war against the United States government," including a plot to destroy the Sears Tower.

To obtain money and support for their mission, the conspirators sought help from al-Qaida, pledged an oath to the terrorist organization and supported an al-Qaida plot to destroy FBI buildings, the four-count indictment charged.

Batiste met several times in December 2005 with a person purporting to be an al-Qaida member and asked for boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles and $50,000 US in cash to help him build an "'Islamic army' to wage jihad'," the indictment said. It said that Batiste said he would use his "soldiers" to destroy the Sears Tower.

Gonzales said "the individual they thought was a member of al-Qaida was present at their meetings and in actuality he was working with the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force."

Inept Jihadis

That's how the guys who were arrested in Miami last night sound. There is no indication they were in touch with al Qaeda, and Attorney General Gonzales says:

There is no immediate threat ... part of the reason for that is because they didn't have the materials they requested, they didn't receive the weapons, at least we don't know of.

In other words, the authorities were on to these guys early, they had informants talking to them, and they chose the right time to reel them in when, as Gonzales said, "We felt that the combination of the planning and the overt acts taken were sufficient to support this prosecution."

This group sounds pretty incompetent, and they hadn't made much progress toward waging the "full ground war" against the United States that they say they intended. In other words, these guys were never really a threat.

Which is exactly the way we want it. We want our law enforcement authorities to be all over would-be terrorists with every weapon at their command: surveillance, telephone and email intercepts, informants, monitoring of phone calls and banking records, you name it. We want the authorities to be so far ahead of would-be terrorists that the terrorists--even if they're just goofballs, as this group may be--never have a chance. We want plots squashed before they get anywhere close to getting off the ground.

And that's how it has been ever since September 11. Time after time, the authorites have rounded up terrorist cells, not in the nick of time as they were about to carry out an attack, but before their plans matured, at a moment chosen by us, not by them.

Which highlights how grotesquely irresponsible it is for the New York Times and other media outlets to tip terrorists off to one anti-terror technique after another.

Posted by John at 11:58 AM


Harvesting the 'Homegrown Terrorist' Crop: Miami

- Kurt Nimmo - In a transparent repeat of the paintball terrorist op in Ottawa (and the absurd bust of innocents in London)—designed to remind American, Canadian, and British subjects they must surrender what remains of their beleaguered civil liberties—the FBI has announced they have raided “a suspected terror cell based in Miami,” according to the Ministry of Hysterical Propaganda, ABC News division.

Another Day in the Empire
June 23, 2006

“The group has been under surveillance for some time and was infiltrated by a government informant who allegedly led them to believe he was an Islamic radical, a Justice Department official said.”

In other words, an FBI agent, pretending to be an “Islamic radical” and a putative “al-Qaeda operative,” convinced a handful of patsies to “discuss” the targeting of the Sears Tower in Chicago and supposedly federal facilities in Miami.

In a repeat of the Ottawa theatrical event, the alleged terrorists, with “possible ties with Al Qaeda” (of course), are “teenagers and young adults,” according to the International Security Research & Intelligence Agency, billed as “analysts and experts at your service to identify, analyse and assess any issue related to your safety and your entreprise’s and/or institution’s (sic).” In short, it appears the FBI has exploited the naiveté of kids, more accustomed to blowing up skyscrapers in video games than in real life.

According to the aforementioned “source,” the dupes in Miami are possibly “Black Muslims,” although this was not mentioned by the corporate media as of this writing (AG Gonzales is scheduled to hold a press conference). “Sources say the arrests reflect the government’s concern about so-called ‘homegrown terrorists.’ It’s a threat FBI Director Robert Mueller discussed during a recent speech in New York,” ABC News continues. Translation: increasingly, the “threat” is domestic, thus a police state becomes more palatable at home, with “Black Muslims” (i.e., the Nation of Islam) and other boogiemen replacing distant and less hysteria-inspiring cave-dwelling terrorists.

“One law enforcement official, who requested anonymity because the investigation was ongoing, said the arrests illustrated how federal authorities were rooting out threats at their earliest stages,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Televised images of FBI agents swarming a warehouse in the Liberty City area of Miami highlighted the possibility of an unusual homegrown case of domestic terrorism.” Of course, now that the “al-Qaeda” threat is increasingly “homegrown,” such staged events will become less “unusual” and will in fact become cours de rigueur.

“A man identified as a member of the ‘Seas of David’ religious group told CNN on Thursday that five of his fellow members were among those arrested and that they had no connection to terrorists,” explains Reuters. “‘We are not terrorists. We are members of David, Seas of David,’ said the man, identified as Brother Corey. He said the group had ’soldiers’ in Chicago, but reiterated it was peaceful movement. Miami media said the group of men sold hair grease and shampoo in the streets. Some worked on construction crews.”

A Google search on “Seas of David” returns no results. “Perhaps it’s only a Davidian-related threat, a new conflict between ‘Davidians’ who fight with ‘Babylonians’ (federal authorities). It needs a thorough investigation” a US source told ISRIA, linked above. Of course, the word “Davidian” brings to mind the premeditated mass murder of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.


ABC News reports: “An FBI informant posed as an emissary from al Qaeda and administered oaths of allegiance to the seven Miami men charged today with providing material support to al Qaeda…. An outline of the indictments to be announced later today indicates the men began meeting with an unnamed FBI informant in November 2005. Justice Department officials say the informant provided boots and a video camera so the men could obtain surveillance pictures of government buildings in Miami.”

In other words, this whole affair is a government set-up, engineered to hype the “homegrown” threat of domestic terrorism, that next phase of the neocon effort to trash the Constitution and further militarize society in preparation for World War Four, the generational crusade made in Israel and transplanted in America, the only nation on earth with the required military prowess and a population sufficiently brainwashed and easily frightened by phony terrorists.

Did NY Police Commissioner Kelly Know About the "Great Miami Terror Bust" Three Weeks Ago?

Reported by Marie Therese - June 23, 2006

What's gone down in Miami the past few days is a sham, pure and simple. The federal government callously used seven Haitian men - who hung out in a windowless warehouse in the poorest section of Miami - as unsuspecting pawns in some kind of sick political game.

It is clear that these men never got to the point of being a threat. They were lured into a plot by the ring-leader Narseal Batiste, whom, I suspect, will prove to be either a government "plant" or a grifter pulling a con on "Al Qaeda".

Batiste lured the Haitians into his trap by convincing them that they were going to improve the lives of people in their community. These "terrorists" were so inept that they simply forgot to buy any guns or explosives.

It appears that security about this "sting" was so weak that NYC Police Commissioner knew about it three weeks ago. Judge Andrew Napolitano alluded to this this morning during a segment on FOX & friends First, when he said:

"You know, when the Canadian police disrupted a Canadian cell of about 17 people about three weeks ago, within hours we had Ray Kelly, the New York City Police Commissioner on and he said the real problem is domestic home-grown cells in the U. S. and we were a little incredulous. And I said, 'Like what do you mean?' and he said 'Well, like, some group in Miami getting together and deciding to blow something up.'... I wonder if he knew more than, more than we thought he knew."

Co-host Alisyn Camerota was completely taken off guard and blurted out that this was a "foreshadowing" of the bust.

It would appear that Commissioner Kelly jumped the gun here and revealed that he was privy to information about this supposed "bust". How is that? Shouldn't he have to answer questions about his comments to the Judge? If he did reveal classified information, shouldn't he be brought up on charges of aiding and abetting the enemy?

This morning, FOX News reporter Steve Harrigan, reporting from Miami, tried to paint a picture of terrorist fanatics, but ended up describing a bunch of downtrodden men who earned money by selling beauty supplies on the street . They occasionally wore hoods and engaged in "martial arts" displays at night outside the warehouse.

By these standards, most of the males in my neighborhood would be Al Qaeda suspects

One can only hope that a high-powered attorney and/or civil rights organization will step in to help these men.

Someone has got to draw a line in the sand when it comes to the state manipulating its citizens as part of a publicity stunt!

If the government gets away with this travesty, how long will it be before those special Halliburton-built "detention camps" begin to appear throughout the United States?

Indictment reveals little hard evidence of terrorist plot

The Orlando Sentinel

From the barber's chair at a shop called The Spot where he gets his regular razor shave, Christopher Johnson often wondered about the odd men at the bunker-like warehouse across the street.

"They ran around like ninjas dressed in black and military fatigues," Johnson, a burly bodyguard and bouncer said Friday. "I thought they were some young guys up to something, but I didn't know if it was good or bad."

Seven of the men were definitely up to no good, authorities say. According to a federal indictment unsealed Friday, they were a cadre of al-Qaida wannabes who planned to create an "Islamic army" and "wage a full ground war" on the United States by blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI offices in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.

But, long on ambition, they were short on success. They acquired combats boots, a cell phone, a camera and some cash, but never stockpiled explosives, carried out a mission nor posed any real threat.

They also had another major problem. The al-Qaida representative who allegedly told them he had come "from overseas" to evaluate and finance their jihad was actually a government informant, authorities said.

"They hoped that their attacks would be, in their own words, `just as good or greater than 9-11,"" said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta. "They certainly had the will. They were searching for the way. "

Arrested were Patrick Abraham, 26, of North Miami; Burson Augustin, 21, of Miami; Rotschild Augustine, 22, of Miami-Dade County; Narseal Batiste, 32; Naudimar Herrera, 22, Lyglenson Lemorin, 31, and Stanley Grant Phanor, 31, all of Miami.

Except for Abraham, an illegal immigrant from Haiti, and Lemorin, a legal permanent resident from Haiti, all are U.S. citizens, a spokeswoman with the U.S. attorney's office in Miami said.

They are charged with two counts of conspiring to support a foreign terrorist organization, one count of conspiring to destroy buildings by use of explosives and one count of conspiring to wage war against the government. Each faces a maximum sentence of 70 years.

In Washington, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said the arrests highlighted the dangers of "homegrown terrorists." He compared the men with community conspirators involved in the 2005 London bombings and the 2004 Madrid train attack.

"Today terrorist threats may come from smaller, more loosely defined cells who are not affiliated with al-Qaida, but who are inspired by a violent jihadist message, and left unchecked, these homegrown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al-Qaida," Gonzales said.

In Miami, Acosta said, it hardly mattered that the men appeared to be better dreamers and talkers than terrorists.

"They had the intent. They had the desire. They took steps toward accomplishing their mission," he said.

Among the steps: Batiste, the alleged leader and a construction worker who once lived in Chicago, met with a man he thought was "an al-Qaida representative" and requested $50,000 and a host of items to build his Islamic Army, court documents say. The items included combat boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles, bulletproof vests, a cell phone and cameras to take reconnaissance pictures of targeted buildings.

"If I can put up a building, I should definitely know how to take one down," Batiste is alleged to have told the informant in one of their meetings.

The informant, described in court documents as a cooperating witness of Arab descent, fulfilled some of Batiste's requests, giving him eight pair of military boots, a cell phone, $3,500 cash and a digital camera capable of taking photos and videos of building.

He also administered the al-Qaida oath of "bayat" to each of the suspects, who according to courts documents, pledged to be an Islamic soldier, loyal to the path of al-Qaida. Federal prosecutors released photos of the men purportedly taking the oath, as well as several of the purported surveillance pictures they took of buildings in Miami.

Family members and friends of two of the men, Lemorin and Phanor, had not seen the photos but said Friday their loved ones were incapable of harming anyone. Batiste, they said, showed up on their street one day wearing a long robe, a skull cap and bearing a bible and an intriguing promise to study the Holy Book and martial arts.

"They didn't know what Batiste was up to," said Sylvain Plantin, 30, Lemorin's cousin. "This was a spiritual thing. All they were doing was trying to find God."

Batiste first came to the attention of law enforcement in October 2005, when, according to court documents, he asked an individual who was traveling to the Middle East to help him find foreign Islamic extremists to fund his mission. Instead, court documents say, the person alerted the FBI, which in turn infiltrated the group.

By then, the men had caught the attention of many of their neighbors in Liberty City, a predominantly black Miami area indelibly scarred by the city's worst race riots in 1980.

They said the men often dressed in black, handed out food, talked about their plans to build a church, or a karate school. They gathered and stayed overnight at a bunker-like warehouse with no windows, no electricity and no running water, often carrying buckets of sand for exercise.

"I'd see them carry those buckets over to the empty house over and that church and fill them with water," said Lillian Gordon, 57, a retired lab technician. "You'd see them preaching all the time. They said they were a ministry."

One legal expert questioned how dangerous the seven really were, and said the role of the informant would be key to their defense.

"If the authorities created the crime, that's classic entrapment," said Jeffrey Harris, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The suspects do not appear to have extensive criminal histories in Florida, records show. North Miami Beach police arrested Batiste an aggravated battery charge on March 5, 2006, records said, but the case was dropped by prosecutors.

Phanor has six prior arrests, including three concealed weapons cases. Records show he was sentenced in 2002 to two years of probation.

Surveying the hordes of media outside the barber shop, Johnson questioned why Liberty City doesn't always merit such attention.

"People hear the word `terrorist' and come running, but we have homicides every day, and the cops don't show up asking questions for three days," he said.

Family, friends defend terror suspects as innocent, hardworking

Knight Ridder Newspapers

When federal agents swooped in to arrest the alleged ringleader in a purported terror plot, Narseal Batiste was applying stucco to an apartment building in Miami's historic Buena Vista East neighborhood.

The job was left unfinished when Batiste and two of his crew were cuffed and taken away by FBI agents, said the startled landlord, John Tronolone. "They seemed like nice enough guys," he said.

Batiste - a small contractor who provided work, martial-arts training and religious instruction to his tiny knot of followers - was among the seven South Florida men charged with conspiring to blow up buildings and wage war against the American government.

They are all young, ranging in age from their early 20s to the early 30s. Five were born in the United States, four of Haitian descent and another of Dominican parents. Two others were Haitian immigrants.

It's unknown what particular grudge, if any, they held against the United States. The government's indictment contends they were inspired by Islamic belief to wage jihad against America, but it's unclear what religious belief they embraced. One relative said they studied a faith that blends Christianity, Judaism and Islam with an emphasis on self-discipline.

All they know, insist relatives and friends, is that the group's activities were innocent.

"They prayed. They exercised. They were trying to get their minds right," said Marlene Phanor, sister of Stanley Grant Phanor, 31, one of the men charged. "These claims are completely false."

Said Minerva Batiste, 34, the alleged ringleader's wife: "He's a very honest man, a hard worker. He taught all these young men a trade so they could live and make money instead of choosing what they did before they met us. He is a Christian. He grew up in the faith. He taught those children the Bible."

One thing neither family members nor friends deny: Some of the men were under the sway of Batiste, described as a martial arts expert.

"He gathered them up," said Linda Polydor, 32, who has two children with one of the alleged conspirators, Lyglenson Lemorin. "He was helping them by getting them jobs."

Running with Batiste meant not only construction, but also "temple" - the Liberty City warehouse agents raided Thursday.

"They were intrigued. They saw the martial arts. They wanted to learn. They only knew street fighting," said Sylvain Plantin, 30, a distant cousin of Phanor's who attended several study sessions at the warehouse where Batiste preached before quitting. But he was emphatic in saying that though Batiste studied the Koran, the rest of the group studied the Bible - and there was no talk of bombs.

Batiste, 32, born in Chicago, owns a small construction company, Azteca Stucco and Masonry, which provided work for at least some of his followers, including Phanor and Lemorin, 31, who immigrated legally from Haiti in 1993.

"Everything with Mr. Batiste seemed geared toward growing his company, building capacity to get jobs and employ people in the community," said Charles Wright, a consultant at Contractor's Resource Center on Biscayne Boulevard, which helps small firms, including Azteca.

Phanor got up before dawn every day to work construction with Batiste, his family said. Polydor said Lemorin did the same until he moved three months ago to work construction in Atlanta - where he was arrested.

"These guys are broke, they don't have any money," said Polydor, alluding to government claims the men had asked for $50,000 in supplies from an informant they believed was al al-Qaida operative.

For a clandestine group, the seven young men did plenty to attract notice: Gathering at odd hours at the warehouse federal authorities said say they called The Embassy. Engaging in vigorous workouts in plain view of curious neighbors. Strolling around in camouflage and dark fatigues.

Neighborhood oddballs for sure, according to myriad descriptions from local residents.

"They were doing karate and jumping jacks in there, and talking in foreign languages," said Shaneah Walker, 16, who would peer into the warehouse when the loading dock doors were occasionally left open. "We had no idea what they were doing."

But dangerous oddballs?

The federal government says, emphatically, yes. According to the indictment unsealed Friday, the seven had every intention of blowing up buildings and killing Americans.

Some of the men had minor criminal records or brushes with the law:

Batiste and another accused follower, Patrick Abraham, 26, were arrested in March for allegedly beating up a man over a parking space in North Miami. The misdemeanor case is pending.

Abraham may have been in the country illegally after overstaying a tourist visa.

Naudimar Herrera, 32, plead to a misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2003. Little other information was available about him. He went by the name Naudy. A woman who answered the door at his address said that his parents had left the country for their native Dominican Republic, and he hadn't lived there long.

Phanor was convicted of misdemeanor pot possesion in 1997. He was arrested in 1999 in North Miami for carrying a concealed weapon and received one-year probation. In 2002, he was arrested for driving with a suspended license and carrying a firearm. He was again put on probation, and was arrested again for driving without a license on Tuesday. He remained in state custody Friday.

No records or information were immediately available on the last two accused men, Burson Augustin, 21, and Rotschild Augustine, 22.

On Friday, Phanor's mother, Elizene Phanor, had her only son's clothes laid out on the driveway Friday: Carpenter pants and T-shirts, and a pair of army fatigues and combat-like boots.

Inside, the neat home at on Northwest 45th Street was adorned with pictures of grandchildren, flowers, large mirrors, pictures of Jesus and Biblical passages.

"He's not Muslim. He just loves to read the Bible. He did nothing wrong," Elizene Phanor said.

She opened his briefcase, displaying notes and a small calculator. On one page, under a list of phone numbers was something Stanley Phanor had apparently written: "Allah is the source. Everything emits from Allah."

Miami Herald Staff Writers Charles Rabin, David Ovalle, Nicholas Spangler, Alfonso Chardy, Susannah Nesmith, Amy Driscoll, Kathleen McGrory, Andrea Robinson and Elinor Brecher contributed to this report. http://www.montereyherald. (page down)

Suspects not terrorists, families say
'My son, he don't have a heart to kill people,' one mother says

Friday, June 23, 2006; Posted: 8:40 p.m. EDT (00:40 GMT)
MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Friends and family of the seven men facing federal charges of aspiring to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower said Friday the men were not involved in terrorism.
The sister of Lyglenson Lemorin, or "Brother Levi," one of the men arrested Thursday on charges of concocting a terrorist plot, said her brother was involved with the group of men to study religion.
Gina Lemorin, who had just returned from her college graduation in Atlanta, Georgia, when she learned of the charges, said he had been with the group in Miami doing construction work.
But when the group began practicing "witchcraft," she said, Lemorin left and moved to Atlanta about four months ago.
Lemorin, 31, has children who live in Atlanta, she said, and he "is not a terrorist."
Lemorin appeared before a federal magistrate Friday in Atlanta, and five of his codefendants did the same in Miami. All were scheduled for arraignment next week.
The seventh man, Stanley Grant Phanor, was in state custody in Miami on a firearms charge and has not yet appeared in federal court.
According to a federal grand jury indictment released Friday, the man who recruited the group, Narseale Batiste, conspired with a government informant to wage "jihad" against the United States. (Full story)
The attack was meant to be grander than the attacks of September 11, 2001, and included planned bombings of the 110-story Sears Tower, the nation's tallest building, and the FBI office in Miami, the indictment says.
While the indictment says the men plotted to "kill all the devils we can," they apparently had no weapons or equipment for such a task. (Watch as the government outlines the alleged plot -- 4:34)
Batiste gave the informant a list of materials he needed, which included "boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios and vehicles" as well as bulletproof vests and $50,000 in cash, according to the indictment.
Batiste told the informant he was organizing an Islamic army to wage a jihad in the United States, the indictment says.
The family of Phanor, who according to the indictment calls himself "Brother Sunni," told reporters in Miami he was innocent of all charges and was a practicing Roman Catholic, not a Muslim.
"They all call themselves brothers and they well-mannered," said his older sister, Marlene Phanor. "All they was trying to do was clean up the community. We are Catholic. He's Catholic." She said the family attends St. Mary's Catholic Church in Miami.
Sylvain Plantin, a cousin of Phanor's, said he was involved in a religious group called "Mores," which met to read the Bible. (Watch as one of the group's members says they are not terrorists -- 6:52)
"They don't eat meat, they don't smoke, they don't drink, and they train highly intensively," he said. "The warehouse is the temple where they all go and pray and meditate."
The windowless warehouse in Liberty City, a predominantly black and low-income area of Miami, was one of several places searched by FBI agents Thursday. Authorities said the men had been living there since March.
Neighbors said the men, who wore turbans, caused no problems but seemed odd. (Watch as neighbors in the projects react to the arrests -- 1:49)
"All you could do was just see their eyes. They had their whole head wrapped up. Just the eyes showing. And they were standing guard -- one here, one there -- like soldiers. Very quiet," one woman said.
Plantin said what made them suspicious is the training they did.
"They practiced martial arts," he said. "They didn't have guns, bombs and have no money funding."
Phanor's mother, Elizene Phanor, said her son had never killed anyone.
"My son, he don't have a heart to kill people," she said. "He say mommy, why the people have heart to shoot people?"
A man who identified himself as "Brother Corey" said five of the men arrested in Miami were his "brothers," members of a religious group he identified as the "Seas of David."
Brother Corey said the group has "soldiers in Chicago," but was peaceful and not associated with any terrorist organizations. He said he used the term soldiers because they were soldiers of God. (Watch man explain why his "brothers" are not terrorists -- 6:52)
"This is a place where we worship and also have businesses, as a work site as a construction company we are trying to build up," he said, referring to the warehouse.
He said the Seas of David is a religious group that blends the teachings of Christianity and Islam.

Analysis: CIA program expands Bush's power
6/23/2006, 7:29 p.m. CT
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A secret CIA-Treasury program to track financial records of millions of Americans is the latest installment in an expansion of executive authority in the name of fighting terrorism. The administration doesn't apologize for President Bush's aggressive take on presidential powers. Vice President Dick Cheney even boasts about it.
Bush has made broad use of his powers, authorizing warrantless wiretaps, possibly collecting telephone records on millions of Americans, holding suspected terrorists overseas without legal protections and using up to 6,000 National Guard members to help patrol the border with Mexico.
That's in addition to the vast anti-terrorism powers Congress granted him in the recently extended Patriot Act.
Civil liberties activists, joined by congressional Democrats and some members of Bush's own party, suggest the president has pushed the envelope too far — usurping authority from Congress and abusing individual privacy rights in the process.
So far, the administration has been unapologetic.
"It's responsible government, it's effective government, it's government that works," outgoing Treasury Secretary John Snow asserted Friday at a news conference as he acknowledged — and defended — the far-reaching surveillance of banking transactions. He dismissed criticism that the program amounted to "data mining" on thousands of Americans.
Secret until disclosed on Thursday in news accounts, the program entails Treasury and CIA tracking of suspected terrorist financing, using access to a vast Belgium-based international database. The program was initiated shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Polls show that Americans generally accept some erosion of civil liberties if they think it makes them safer from the possibility of terrorist attacks.
Still, Bush's war on terrorism is an open-ended one. Constitutional scholars suggest there are limits.
"At some point, the Constitution can't bear the kind of continued strains that are being imposed by the demands of the fight on terrorism," said Harold J. Krent, dean and professor of law at Kent College of Law in Chicago.,
"What I am worried about is that there is a potential for amassing huge databases of individuals — linked by phone records, linked by financial records — that can be kept and used without any kind of real oversight. It's frightening," Krent said.
Many in both parties point to Cheney as the engine behind Bush's power plays.
At a Republican luncheon in Chicago on Friday, Cheney defended the financial-data tracking and earlier surveillance programs as "good, solid, sound programs" and castigated the news media for disclosing them.
When Cheney in the 1970s was chief of staff to then-President Ford, he saw presidential authority at a low point, eroded by the unpopular Vietnam War and the Watergate scandals. The balance of power was still tilted in favor of Congress when he and Bush took office in January 2001, Cheney contends.
He and Bush thus believed it was important to "have the balance righted, if you will," Cheney told a National Press Club audience in Washington this week. "And I think we've done that successfully."
One reason the administration is engaging in so much secret surveillance is that current technology makes it so easy, suggested Paul Light, a public policy professor at New York University. "It's almost a case where the technology is leading the policy. If you can do it, why not do it?"
"Bush and his advisers just don't see privacy rights as a particularly balancing test in making the decision to go ahead with these techniques," Light said.
Americans may grow weary of surrendering individual rights if they decide terror-war thrusts intrude on their personal lives more directly, said pollster Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. But that hasn't happened yet.
"Now there's still a forgiving attitude on the part of many people in the country," Kohut said.
He said that forgiving attitude could only be reinforced by the news from Miami of the arrest of seven men in an alleged plot against the Sears Tower in Chicago — men Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called "homegrown terrorists."
Bush isn't the first president to be accused of trying to expand presidential authority. The same charges were leveled against Democratic Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
"The standard view of liberals in the past was that presidents were too weak," said Princeton University political scientist Fred Greenstein. "But this is a seesaw business. It's always dependent on whose ox is being gored." page down

So-Called Homegrown Terrorist & Presidential Powers ALL IN THE SAME DAY?

June 23, 2006

Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror

WASHINGTON, June 22 — Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, "has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks and is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities," Stuart Levey, an under secretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview on Thursday.

The program is grounded in part on the president's emergency economic powers, Mr. Levey said, and multiple safeguards have been imposed to protect against any unwarranted searches of Americans' records.

The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

That access to large amounts of confidential data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.

"The capability here is awesome or, depending on where you're sitting, troubling," said one former senior counterterrorism official who considers the program valuable. While tight controls are in place, the official added, "the potential for abuse is enormous."

The program is separate from the National Security Agency's efforts to eavesdrop without warrants and collect domestic phone records, operations that have provoked fierce public debate and spurred lawsuits against the government and telecommunications companies.

But all the programs grew out of the Bush administration's desire to exploit technological tools to prevent another terrorist strike, and all reflect attempts to break down longstanding legal or institutional barriers to the government's access to private information about Americans and others inside the United States.

Officials described the Swift program as the biggest and most far-reaching of several secret efforts to trace terrorist financing. Much more limited agreements with other companies have provided access to A.T.M. transactions, credit card purchases and Western Union wire payments, the officials said.

Nearly 20 current and former government officials and industry executives discussed aspects of the Swift operation with The New York Times on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. Some of those officials expressed reservations about the program, saying that what they viewed as an urgent, temporary measure had become permanent nearly five years later without specific Congressional approval or formal authorization.

Data from the Brussels-based banking consortium, formally known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, has allowed officials from the C.I.A., the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies to examine "tens of thousands" of financial transactions, Mr. Levey said.

While many of those transactions have occurred entirely on foreign soil, officials have also been keenly interested in international transfers of money by individuals, businesses, charities and other groups under suspicion inside the United States, officials said. A small fraction of Swift's records involve transactions entirely within this country, but Treasury officials said they were uncertain whether any had been examined.

Swift executives have been uneasy at times about their secret role, the government and industry officials said. By 2003, the executives told American officials they were considering pulling out of the arrangement, which began as an emergency response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the officials said. Worried about potential legal liability, the Swift executives agreed to continue providing the data only after top officials, including Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, intervened. At that time, new controls were introduced.

Among the safeguards, government officials said, is an outside auditing firm that verifies that the data searches are based on intelligence leads about suspected terrorists. "We are not on a fishing expedition," Mr. Levey said. "We're not just turning on a vacuum cleaner and sucking in all the information that we can."

Swift and Treasury officials said they were aware of no abuses. But Mr. Levey, the Treasury official, said one person had been removed from the operation for conducting a search considered inappropriate.

Treasury officials said Swift was exempt from American laws restricting government access to private financial records because the cooperative was considered a messaging service, not a bank or financial institution.

But at the outset of the operation, Treasury and Justice Department lawyers debated whether the program had to comply with such laws before concluding that it did not, people with knowledge of the debate said. Several outside banking experts, however, say that financial privacy laws are murky and sometimes contradictory and that the program raises difficult legal and public policy questions.

The Bush administration has made no secret of its campaign to disrupt terrorist financing, and President Bush, Treasury officials and others have spoken publicly about those efforts. Administration officials, however, asked The New York Times not to publish this article, saying that disclosure of the Swift program could jeopardize its effectiveness. They also enlisted several current and former officials, both Democrat and Republican, to vouch for its value.

Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said: "We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration. We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest."

Mr. Levey agreed to discuss the classified operation after the Times editors told him of the newspaper's decision.

On Thursday evening, Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary, said: "Since immediately following 9/11, the American government has taken every legal measure to prevent another attack on our country. One of the most important tools in the fight against terror is our ability to choke off funds for the terrorists."

She added: "We know the terrorists pay attention to our strategy to fight them, and now have another piece of the puzzle of how we are fighting them. We also know they adapt their methods, which increases the challenge to our intelligence and law enforcement officials."

Referring to the disclosure by The New York Times last December of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program, she said, "The president is concerned that once again The New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect our citizens."

Swift declined to discuss details of the program but defended its role in written responses to questions. "Swift has fully complied with all applicable laws," the consortium said. The organization said it insisted that the data be used only for terrorism investigations and had narrowed the scope of the information provided to American officials over time.

A Crucial Gatekeeper

Swift's database provides a rich hunting ground for government investigators. Swift is a crucial gatekeeper, providing electronic instructions on how to transfer money among 7,800 financial institutions worldwide. The cooperative is owned by more than 2,200 organizations, and virtually every major commercial bank, as well as brokerage houses, fund managers and stock exchanges, uses its services. Swift routes more than 11 million transactions each day, most of them across borders.

The cooperative's message traffic allows investigators, for example, to track money from the Saudi bank account of a suspected terrorist to a mosque in New York. Starting with tips from intelligence reports about specific targets, agents search the database in what one official described as a "24-7" operation. Customers' names, bank account numbers and other identifying information can be retrieved, the officials said.

The data does not allow the government to track routine financial activity, like A.T.M. withdrawals, confined to this country, or to see bank balances, Treasury officials said. And the information is not provided in real time — Swift generally turns it over several weeks later. Because of privacy concerns and the potential for abuse, the government sought the data only for terrorism investigations and prohibited its use for tax fraud, drug trafficking or other inquiries, the officials said.

The Treasury Department was charged by President Bush, in a September 2001 executive order, with taking the lead role in efforts to disrupt terrorist financing. Mr. Bush has been briefed on the program and Vice President Dick Cheney has attended C.I.A. demonstrations, the officials said. The National Security Agency has provided some technical assistance.

While the banking program is a closely held secret, administration officials have held classified briefings for some members of Congress and the Sept. 11 commission, the officials said. More lawmakers were briefed in recent weeks, after the administration learned The Times was making inquiries for this article.

Swift's 25-member board of directors, made up of representatives from financial institutions around the world, was previously told of the program. The Group of 10's central banks, in major industrialized countries, which oversee Swift, were also informed. It is not clear if other network participants know that American intelligence officials can examine their message traffic.

Because Swift is based overseas and has offices in the United States, it is governed by European and American laws. Several international regulations and policies impose privacy restrictions on companies that are generally regarded as more stringent than those in this country. United States law establishes some protections for the privacy of Americans' financial data, but they are not ironclad. A 1978 measure, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, has a limited scope and a number of exceptions, and its role in national security cases remains largely untested.

Several people familiar with the Swift program said they believed that they were exploiting a "gray area" in the law and that a case could be made for restricting the government's access to the records on Fourth Amendment and statutory grounds. They also worried about the impact on Swift if the program were disclosed.

"There was always concern about this program," a former official said.

One person involved in the Swift program estimated that analysts had reviewed international transfers involving "many thousands" of people or groups in the United States. Two other officials placed the figure in the thousands. Mr. Levey said he could not estimate the number.

The Swift data has provided clues to money trails and ties between possible terrorists and groups financing them, the officials said. In some instances, they said, the program has pointed them to new suspects, while in others it has buttressed cases already under investigation.

Among the successes was the capture of a Qaeda operative, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said. The Swift data identified a previously unknown figure in Southeast Asia who had financial dealings with a person suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda; that link helped locate Hambali in Thailand in 2003, they said.

In the United States, the program has provided financial data in investigations into possible domestic terrorist cells as well as inquiries of Islamic charities with suspected of having links to extremists, the officials said.

The data also helped identify a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges last year, the officials said. The man, Uzair Paracha, who worked at a New York import business, aided a Qaeda operative in Pakistan by agreeing to launder $200,000 through a Karachi bank, prosecutors said.

In terrorism prosecutions, intelligence officials have been careful to "sanitize," or hide the origins of evidence collected through the program to keep it secret, officials said.

The Bush administration has pursued steps that may provide some enhanced legal standing for the Swift program. In late 2004, Congress authorized the Treasury Department to develop regulations requiring American banks to turn over records of international wire transfers. Officials say a preliminary version of those rules may be ready soon. One official described the regulations as an attempt to "formalize" access to the kind of information secretly provided by Swift, though other officials said the initiative was unrelated to the program.

The Scramble for New Tools

Like other counterterrorism measures carried out by the Bush administration, the Swift program began in the hectic days after the Sept. 11 attacks, as officials scrambled to identify new tools to head off further strikes.

One priority was to cut off the flow of money to Al Qaeda. The 9/11 hijackers had helped finance their plot by moving money through banks. Nine of the hijackers, for instance, funneled money from Europe and the Middle East to SunTrust bank accounts in Florida. Some of the $130,000 they received was wired by people overseas with known links to Al Qaeda.

Financial company executives, many of whom had lost friends at the World Trade Center, were eager to help federal officials trace terrorist money. "They saw 9/11 not just as an attack on the United States, but on the financial industry as a whole," said one former government official.

Quietly, counterterrorism officials sought to expand the information they were getting from financial institutions. Treasury officials, for instance, spoke with credit card companies about devising an alert if someone tried to buy fertilizer and timing devices that could be used for a bomb, but they were told the idea was not logistically possible, a lawyer in the discussions said.

The F.B.I. began acquiring financial records from Western Union and its parent company, the First Data Corporation. The programs were alluded to in Congressional testimony by the F.B.I. in 2003 and described in more detail in a book released this week, "The One Percent Doctrine," by Ron Suskind. Using what officials described as individual, narrowly framed subpoenas and warrants, the F.B.I. has obtained records from First Data, which processes credit and debit card transactions, to track financial activity and try to locate suspects.

Similar subpoenas for the Western Union data allowed the F.B.I. to trace wire transfers, mainly outside the United States, and to help Israel disrupt about a half-dozen possible terrorist plots there by unraveling the financing, an official said.

The idea for the Swift program, several officials recalled, grew out of a suggestion by a Wall Street executive, who told a senior Bush administration official about Swift's database. Few government officials knew much about the consortium, which is led by a Brooklyn native, Leonard H. Schrank, but they quickly discovered it offered unparalleled access to international transactions. Swift, a former government official said, was "the mother lode, the Rosetta stone" for financial data.

Intelligence officials were so eager to use the Swift data that they discussed having the C.I.A. covertly gain access to the system, several officials involved in the talks said. But Treasury officials resisted, the officials said, and favored going to Swift directly.

At the same time, lawyers in the Treasury Department and the Justice Department were considering possible legal obstacles to the arrangement, the officials said.

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans had no constitutional right to privacy for their records held by banks or other financial institutions. In response, Congress passed the Right to Financial Privacy Act two years later, restricting government access to Americans' banking records. In considering the Swift program, some government lawyers were particularly concerned about whether the law prohibited officials from gaining access to records without a warrant or subpoena based on some level of suspicion about each target.

For many years, law enforcement officials have relied on grand-jury subpoenas or court-approved warrants for such financial data. Since 9/11, the F.B.I. has turned more frequently to an administrative subpoena, known as a national security letter, to demand such records.

After an initial debate, Treasury Department lawyers, consulting with the Justice Department, concluded that the privacy laws applied to banks, not to a banking cooperative like Swift. They also said the law protected individual customers and small companies, not the major institutions that route money through Swift on behalf of their customers.

Other state, federal and international regulations place different and sometimes conflicting restrictions on the government's access to financial records. Some put greater burdens on the company disclosing the information than on the government officials demanding it.

Among their considerations, American officials saw Swift as a willing partner in the operation. But Swift said its participation was never voluntary. "Swift has made clear that it could provide data only in response to a valid subpoena," according to its written statement.

Indeed, the cooperative's executives voiced early concerns about legal and corporate liability, officials said, and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control began issuing broad subpoenas for the cooperative's records related to terrorism. One official said the subpoenas were intended to give Swift some legal protection.

Underlying the government's legal analysis was the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which Mr. Bush invoked after the 9/11 attacks. The law gives the president what legal experts say is broad authority to "investigate, regulate or prohibit" foreign transactions in responding to "an unusual and extraordinary threat."

But L. Richard Fischer, a Washington lawyer who wrote a book on banking privacy and is regarded as a leading expert in the field, said he was troubled that the Treasury Department would use broad subpoenas to demand large volumes of financial records for analysis. Such a program, he said, appears to do an end run around bank-privacy laws that generally require the government to show that the records of a particular person or group are relevant to an investigation.

"There has to be some due process," Mr. Fischer said. "At an absolute minimum, it strikes me as inappropriate."

Several former officials said they had lingering concerns about the legal underpinnings of the Swift operation. The program "arguably complies with the letter of the law, if not the spirit," one official said.

Another official said: "This was creative stuff. Nothing was clear cut, because we had never gone after information this way before."

Treasury officials said they considered the government's authority to subpoena the Swift records to be clear. "People do not have a privacy interest in their international wire transactions," Mr. Levey, the Treasury under secretary, said.

Tighter Controls Sought

Within weeks of 9/11, Swift began turning over records that allowed American analysts to look for evidence of terrorist financing. Initially, there appear to have been few formal limits on the searches.

"At first, they got everything — the entire Swift database," one person close to the operation said.

Intelligence officials paid particular attention to transfers to or from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because most of the 9/11 hijackers were from those countries.

The volume of data, particularly at the outset, was often overwhelming, officials said. "We were turning on every spigot we could find and seeing what water would come out," one former administration official said. "Sometimes there were hits, but a lot of times there weren't."

Officials realized the potential for abuse, and narrowed the program's targets and put in more safeguards. Among them were the auditing firm, an electronic record of every search and a requirement that analysts involved in the operation document the intelligence that justified each data search. Mr. Levey said the program was used only to examine records of individuals or entities, not for broader data searches.

Despite the controls, Swift executives became increasingly worried about their secret involvement with the American government, the officials said. By 2003, the cooperative's officials were discussing pulling out because of their concerns about legal and financial risks if the program were revealed, one government official said.

"How long can this go on?" a Swift executive asked, according to the official.

Even some American officials began to question the open-ended arrangement. "I thought there was a limited shelf life and that this was going to go away," the former senior official said.

In 2003, administration officials asked Swift executives and some board members to come to Washington. They met with Mr. Greenspan, Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, and Treasury officials, among others, in what one official described as "a full-court press." Aides to Mr. Greenspan and Mr. Mueller declined to comment on the meetings.

The executives agreed to continue supplying records after the Americans pledged to impose tighter controls. Swift representatives would be stationed alongside intelligence officials and could block any searches considered inappropriate, several officials said.

The procedural change provoked some opposition at the C.I.A. because "the agency was chomping at the bit to have unfettered access to the information," a senior counterterrorism official said. But the Treasury Department saw it as a necessary compromise, the official said, to "save the program."

Barclay Walsh contributed reporting for this article.

Suspects are not Muslims, council leader says

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Minutes after U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta announced indictments on Friday against an alleged terror cell, a Muslim leader took to the steps of the city's federal courthouse and said the suspects "were not known" at either of two mosques near the warehouse in the Liberty City neighborhood where authorities arrested them.

Ahmed Bedier, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he and other Muslims feared some would try to connect Islam and the men's alleged plot to blow up a slew of federal buildings and the Sears Tower in Chicago.

"This seems like some kind of cult group that shares nothing with our community," Bedier told reporters of the suspects.

He asked the news media not to refer to the suspects as Muslims.

"Muslims don't worship at warehouses," Bedier said. "They don't sleep in warehouses."

Concerned the case might lead some to paint defaming graffiti, damage mosques or homes, CAIR's legal director in Florida, Areeb Naseer, asked police to be vigilant.

"We are concerned about a backlash against the Muslim community as a result of these arrests," Naseer said.

Incidents of vandalism against Muslim shops, mosques and community centers increased after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., which also prompted authorities to search Arab-Americans at airport security checkpoints, community leaders said.

Law enforcement officials sought to preempt any negative, generalized reactions.

"Today's indictment is against individuals. It's not against a particular group or a particular faith," Acosta said.

The grand jury's indictment said the group's alleged ringleader, Narseal Batiste, told a confidential informant he meant to build an "Islamic Army" to wage a holy war.

But in Liberty City, where camera crews set up shop outside the suspects' warehouse headquarters, residents questioned that connection.

Families of two suspects said the men were involved in Bible studies.

The mother of one, Stanley Grant Phanor, said he went to church every Sunday.

"He loves to read the Bible," said Phanor's mother, Elizene Phanor.

Minister Rasul Muhammad, of the Muhammad Mosque No. 29, criticized journalists for initially reporting the suspects were "black Muslim radicals." page down



'Never any imminent danger'
They were seven guys armed only with some new boots and a camera - all of which were given to them by the FBI.
So while the charges seven men in Florida face are serious - they are accused of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower - several law enforcement authorities downplayed the threat Friday, emphasizing that the group, while willing, wasn't really too wily or well-armed.
"There was never any imminent danger to the Sears Tower in Chicago," Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline said. "The bottom line is none of these plans materialized."
Said FBI Deputy Director John Pistole, "This group was more aspirational than operational."
What they did do, a federal indictment claims, is operate out of a warehouse in Miami's blighted Liberty City section - take an oath to al-Qaida and plot to create an "Islamic Army" bent on violence against the United States. Five of those arrested are U.S. citizens.

The seven men thought they were dealing with an al-Qaida operative, but it was really an informant working for the government, the indictment said.
While the group never got very far, left unchecked, authorities said, they could have done real damage.
"It's an example of the philosophy of prevention. These arrests were made during the talking stage, long before any bomb-making stage," said Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney in Florida. "While they may be seen as bungling wannabes, they are potentially dangerous wannabes who, based on the allegations, were pursuing extremely dangerous plans."

Prosecutors said Narseal Batiste began recruiting and training the others in November. The FBI learned of the plot from someone the defendants tried to recruit, authorities said. The FBI then arranged for an informant of Arabic descent to pass himself off as an al-Qaida operative.
Batiste met several times in December with the informant and asked for boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles and $50,000 to help him build an "Islamic Army," the indictment said.
The informant supplied boots and a video camera, the indictment said.
In February, Batiste told the informant that he and his soldiers wanted to attend al-Qaida training and planned a "full ground war" against the United States in order to "kill all the devils we can," according to the indictment. His mission would "be just as good or greater than 9/11," it said.
In addition to the Sears Tower, Batiste allegedly talked about blowing up various federal buildings in Florida.
Batiste once lived in Chicago, but has little criminal history here, Cline said.
Court records show Batiste was arrested May 26, 1993, at 151 E. Erie St. for punching out the driver's-side window of a car with his fist. He was found guilty of criminal damage to property, paid $50, and completed his supervision.

He filed bankruptcy in Chicago in 2001, listing $11,321 in debt and only $3,925 in personal property, including a 1990 Econoline van. He listed two sons, Prince and Nicholas. On Friday, he told a judge in Miami he now has four children.
In 2001 and 2003, he was sued for not paying his debts, and each time a judgment was entered against him when he didn't show up to court.
The Batiste family hails from Marksville, La., a town of about 5,400 in central Louisiana. They're a well-known family in town, with much of the population either being a Batiste or a Batiste in-law. No one the Daily Herald reached knew Narseal Batiste personally, but everyone knew his family and acknowledged they were relatives. Marksville Assistant Police Chief John Augustine, a distant cousin, said many Batiste relatives are tile layers. Several of them moved up to Chicago several decades ago to ply their trade. He said the family has deep Catholic roots in the community.

While Narseal Batiste had an address listed in Marksville, Augustine said he never had any trouble with the law there. He said he is shocked about the arrest, given the Batiste family's reputation in the community.
"All I know is that he comes from hard-working people," he said. "From what I know of this family, I can't believe the allegations."
Immediate family members of Batiste, who live on the northwest side of Chicago, refused to comment Friday night.
Joseph Phanor, the father of defendant Stanley Grant Phanor, said he did not believe "anything they say about" his son.
"This boy, he's not a violent boy. He never got into trouble. He didn't want to kill people," the elder Phanor said.
Court records show his son was convicted of carrying a concealed firearm in 2002 and sentenced to two years' probation.

In addition to Batiste and Phanor, the defendants were identified as Patrick Abraham, or "Brother Pat"; Naudimar Herrera or "Brother Naudy"; Lemorin, also known as "Brother Levi" or Brother Levi-El"; Burson Augustin, also known as "Brother B"; and Rotschild Augustine, or "Brother Rot."
Each was charged with conspiracy to destroy the structures and to wage war against the U.S. government.
Residents living near the Florida warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their group. Tashawn Rose, 29, said they tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class.
She said she talked to one of the men about a month ago.
"They seemed brainwashed," she said. "They said they had given their lives to Allah."
Residents said FBI agents spent several hours in the neighborhood showing photos of the suspects and seeking information. They said the men had lived in the area for about a year.
Benjamin Williams, 17, said the group sometimes had young children with them. At times, he added, the men "would cover their faces. Sometimes they would wear things on their heads, like turbans."
• Daily Herald news services and Staff Writers Steve Zalusky and Andrew Schroedter  page down

Charlene Mingo, wife of terrorism suspect Lyglenson Lemorin, leaves federal court in Atlanta on Friday. Lemorin is one seven men arrested in an alleged plot against Chicago's Sears Tower.


'He was studying religion'
Lemorin may have have stayed in recent weeks at the large, rambling apartment complex on Roswell Road where some of his family lives. A man who said he was Lemorin's brother was outraged by the government's characterization of his sibling as a terrorist.
"The FBI is slandering him; my brother doesn't belong to this group," said the man, who would not provide his name. "He was studying religion with them. When he saw they were into witchcraft, he left them."
As the man stood in the parking lot in front of the apartment building, Lemorin's sister, Gina, who has lived in the apartment for about a year, shouted down from a landing.
"We don't know anything about this. That's not who my brother is," said Gina Lemorin, who graduated from a local college on Friday. A van full of family members and friends pulled into the parking lot just as the media did. An angry Gina Lemorin muttered that the media was ruining her big day.
Linda Polydor, 32, who has two children with Lemorin, told reporters in Florida that alleged ringleader Narseal Batiste "gathered up" the other alleged conspirators by helping them get jobs. Residents, according to other media reports, had said the men — some of whom lived in a Miami warehouse — appeared to be brainwashed.
Lemorin appeared in court on Friday in a white T-shirt with black jeans, wearing a beard and short dreadlocks. His hands were handcuffed behind him.
His cousin, Linda Lemorin, who lives in Florida, said he came to the United States with his mother when he was 11. Lemorin has a Florida permit to carry a concealed weapon that expires in 2009 and was the defendant in a paternity suit filed by Polydor in 2000, according to Miami-Dade County court records. On May 22, he was married to Charlene Mingo.
New wife sits quietly
Mingo sat upright at the end of the bench just behind her new husband in the Atlanta courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Linda T. Walker on Friday afternoon. She held a brown leather belt in her hands, occasionally rolling and unrolling it. A white knit cap covered her hair. A tattoo covered her left arm. She refused to acknowledge reporters who asked for comment. "I have no concern to know anybody right now," she said.
During the short hearing, her husband barely glanced at her. The judge asked if Lemorin needed an appointed attorney. Hardy said Lemorin's family "does not have the resources at this point" for an attorney. But they may have funds later, Hardy said.
Lemorin said nothing during the proceeding and was ordered held pending another hearing on Thursday.
Hardy said Lemorin was living and working in Atlanta. He said he believed his client worked in the clothing industry here, "but I don't know. I just met him."
Although family members said Lemorin moved to Atlanta a few months ago, public records indicate he used a Miami address as recently as last month when he was married.
As the news of the alleged terror plot spread far and wide on Friday, residents of the two-story, 16-unit apartment buildings in Sandy Springs learned Lemorin might have lived among them.
Kevin Grogan has lived for nine years in the complex, in an apartment under the one occupied by Gina Lemorin. He said she had lived there for about a year with her small child, but that he had seen a man who matched Lemorin's description in the last two or three weeks.
Grogan said he often saw that man sitting in the back porch of the apartment with a laptop. He said the noise level upstairs had increased recently, as though someone were exercising or moving around heavy things.
"There's a lot of noise there lately," Grogan said. "They kept us up a lot."
Grogan was shocked to learn a person with alleged terrorist ties lived near him.
"It's absolutely insane to think they were right above us, I don't know what to think," he said shrugging his shoulders. "I guess it could be anywhere."  page down




----- Original Message -----

Sent: Friday, June 23, 2006 7:06 PM
Subject: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower


The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower - Forums powered by Reason and Principle

 The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower [ Post 294720091 ]

Category: News & Opinion (General)  Topic: News & Current Events
Source: Buzz
Published: June 23, 2006  Author: A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
   For Education and Discussion Only.  Not for Commercial Use.

Earlier today, BuzzFlash suggested that the Bush Administration's claim of foiling an attempt to destroy the Sears Tower was propaganda exaggerated to distract and mislead us. While we have not denied there were indeed rumors and boasts of committing acts of terror, a careful examination of the facts makes it clear that the Miami group was not as serious a threat as portrayed in the media. They had no operational ability beyond their mouths.

Here is what we found buried in the middle of some reports:

No terrorist connections:

Group "never met Bin Laden or had any contact with the terror kingpin's henchmen… In fact, they had no connection to any known terrorist organization." (NY Daily News)
No actual terrorist actions:

No bomb making materials were found in the raids." (
"Only overt acts described in the indictments were swearing oaths of allegiance to Al Qaeda and taking video footage of the F.B.I office." (NY Times)
Six of the seven men indicted "are described only as driving (the leader) or the informer places or as attending meetings between the two." (NY Times)
"Only devised a plot on paper." (Chicago Sun-Times)
Officials dismiss serious risk:

Chicago Police: There was "No credible threat… They had no capability to (destroy the Sears tower). They never got to that point – or could have." (NY Daily News)
Sears Tower executive: "Law enforcement continues to tell us that they have never found evidence of a credible terrorism threat against Sears Tower that has gone beyond criminal discussions." (Chicago Sun-Times)
Senior federal law-enforcement source: "No means" to attack Sears Tower or other buildings. "There was no threat at all." (Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication Executive Director: "The plan developed in Florida was never an actual plan, and therefore, nobody was in danger" (CBS News)
The Sears Tower is the tallest building in North America and is known for its structural integrity. It is actually comprised of nine separate steel columns of different heights. While 9-11 showed what determined, well-supplied terrorists can do, a single wannabe amateur and a few bodyguards without any connections pose little threat, as the Chicago Police noted above.

Again, BuzzFlash is supportive of the FBI for arresting the group. We just don't think it is as important as Bush seems to want us to. The timing of the raid, given that there was no immediate operational threat, appears politically motivated. The Bush Administration wanted to scare Americans and tie the Iraq War to terror after a Senate debate on redeployment that very morning.

Bush has said for years that the point of going to Iraq was to draw out terrorists there to prevent them from coming here. If anything, the most newsworthy aspect of this story is that the suspects were largely American citizens, operating within our borders, and not even Arab, which means that our focus on War in Iraq does not address threats that could be more immediate.

Baron_Stein writes: "FYI"

Post Extras: 

(Son of Liberty)
06/23/06 05:15 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720094, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 2)

Flag to: MarcusAurelius, wile, Heretic, Akerbeltz, HOUNDDAWG, BlondGermanNight, A_Bert, Aeryn_Sun, Mr_Kurtz, Liberty_Burning, rearguard, VictorP, GeorgeSalt, guenon68, DocLady, aerial, Emperor_Junior, Another1, ExiledInTaiwan

   not to our paisan, give it to a Jew congressman in another district
Mention it, don't insist, Barzini is a man who'll know that without being told.

Post Extras: 

(back to basics)
06/23/06 05:15 PM
  Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720095, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 1)

Heh, if this ploy works it sure will make it harder to lease office space in the Sears Tower.

    "The Muslim mafia, their dhimmi's and the skinheads would be overjoyed to rid the forum of the only person that knows enough about Islam to counter the lies and obfuscations." _____ Heretic

Post Extras: 

(Son of Liberty)
06/23/06 05:18 PM
Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720105, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 2)

Flag to: DamageInc, Gustav_Vasa, FreeToThink2005, natibrau, Hoosier_Patriot, grapple, SlackerSlayer, Judson, UsedToCould, angle, WestPacSailor, calrodin, Eddy, Sept, rottenjohnh, BlackJade, beowolf, Constantine, KingKangaroo

   not to our paisan, give it to a Jew congressman in another district
Mention it, don't insist, Barzini is a man who'll know that without being told.

Post Extras: 

(Son of Liberty)
06/23/06 05:19 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720110, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 2)

Flag to: impatient, NOLAJBS, tgambill, joe24pack, rusalka, jjbrouwer, BikerNina, maryobrien, petewagner33, givemeliberty, captainquint, hmsinflammable, Bom_Shiva, Excalibur, E_T, madrussian, ProudWhiteCuban, Polichinello

   not to our paisan, give it to a Jew congressman in another district
Mention it, don't insist, Barzini is a man who'll know that without being told.

Post Extras: 

(Son of Liberty)
06/23/06 05:20 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720113, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 2)

Flag to: PaleoCon, wolfrim, linus, trulyneutral, FerricWebcaesar, Oceanna, Heracles, Greenatticrat, CubicleGuy

   not to our paisan, give it to a Jew congressman in another district
Mention it, don't insist, Barzini is a man who'll know that without being told.

Post Extras: 

(Son of Liberty)
06/23/06 05:25 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Kudzu  |  Post 294720121, reply to 294720095 ] (Score: 2)

Well, I guess it's possible but I doubt anyone in Chicago takes this seriously. Glad to see you back, wilkommen.

   not to our paisan, give it to a Jew congressman in another district
Mention it, don't insist, Barzini is a man who'll know that without being told.

Post Extras: 

(back to basics)
06/23/06 05:26 PM
  Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720125, reply to 294720121 ] (Score: 1)


Check out the British press.. They aren't quite buying it.

    "The Muslim mafia, their dhimmi's and the skinheads would be overjoyed to rid the forum of the only person that knows enough about Islam to counter the lies and obfuscations." _____ Heretic

Post Extras: 

06/23/06 05:43 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Kudzu  |  Post 294720165, reply to 294720095 ] (Score: 1)

Could be Bush is helping the UAE make a bid for the tower to make up for that bit about the ports.

   Nothing is settled until it comes out right - Clemenceau quoting Charles Sumner

Post Extras: 

(back to basics)
06/23/06 05:45 PM
  Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: hmsinflammable  |  Post 294720172, reply to 294720165 ] (Score: 1)

I didn't know the Emirates were bidding on the Tower. I figure its just a lot of hype over a handful of homeless rag boys from Liberty City..

You read the press. They were "declaring war" on the US.

    "The Muslim mafia, their dhimmi's and the skinheads would be overjoyed to rid the forum of the only person that knows enough about Islam to counter the lies and obfuscations." _____ Heretic

Post Extras: 

06/23/06 05:48 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Kudzu  |  Post 294720178, reply to 294720172 ] (Score: 1)

Yes, a bunch of boys with no weapons were declaring war on the US, and the US was sorely afraid.

What has become of this country?

   Nothing is settled until it comes out right - Clemenceau quoting Charles Sumner

Post Extras: 

(back to basics)
06/23/06 05:49 PM
  Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: hmsinflammable  |  Post 294720181, reply to 294720178 ] (Score: 1)

"What has become of this country?"

Terminal arrogance and overweening fear.

    "The Muslim mafia, their dhimmi's and the skinheads would be overjoyed to rid the forum of the only person that knows enough about Islam to counter the lies and obfuscations." _____ Heretic

Post Extras: 

06/23/06 05:51 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720186, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 2)

When is it gonna be enough? This phoney "Terrorist" cell is a total BS. These boys are innocent. Now I'm not a big fan of the darkies, but I would never want to see any human set up like this and prosecuted unjustly.

And the MSM talking heads keep saying that these are guys that hate america, which is apparently the only "crime" they really commited

Yeah well 95% of the world hates america, I hate america, most people I know hate america, so I guess we are all terrorists now.

   "Who are you going to believe? Me or the donkey"
Mulla Nasruddin

Post Extras: 

06/23/06 05:55 PM
  Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720196, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 0)

The criminal Bushwhack admin that now dictates to us citizens will not leave quietly and a change of partys is just one more scam to keep the stupids at bay.......and then out to bay to sink if you so much as disagree with them

   Man is the image of his mature and immature love affairs, his successful and unsuccessful businesses and his ability to accept todays morality with the retention of a conscience Ö¦Ö

Post Extras: 

(agent provocateur)
06/23/06 06:02 PM
  Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720209, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 2)

It couldn't be that simple. Like with the sniper, there's no motive. The behavior is not consistent with black men. No details come out. I think these guys are being scapegoated to cover for a failed mossad operation. Notice how the media is so content with the official story, ...or maybe even generating the official story themselves.

There are always two parties; the establishment and the movement. -Emerson

Edited by petewagner33 on 06/23/06 06:13 PM.

Post Extras: 

06/23/06 06:26 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720256, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 2)

The supposed plot, cooked up among black louts in Miami's worst black slum -- none of them actually associated with any Arab group of any kind -- apparently is just a drug-induced scheme that hadn't even gotten to anything more than big talk. This handful of teenage and 20-something losers hadn't even succeeded in getting the common fertilizer that was used in the Oklahoma City bombing. The possibility that this bunch could focus on a plan and go to the considerable effort required by their supposed plot is very remote.

What are they going to be prosecuted for? Conspiring to do the impossible? Failing to procure fertilizer in the middle of a city? Being dumber than a Miami cop?

Post Extras: 

(back to basics)
06/23/06 06:27 PM
  Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Haroun  |  Post 294720260, reply to 294720256 ] (Score: 1)

The Feds sent an "informer" in there offering to finance a great undertaking for these unemployed goombahs.

    "The Muslim mafia, their dhimmi's and the skinheads would be overjoyed to rid the forum of the only person that knows enough about Islam to counter the lies and obfuscations." _____ Heretic

Post Extras: 

06/23/06 06:31 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Kudzu  |  Post 294720269, reply to 294720260 ] (Score: 1)

sometimes you have to prime the well.

obviously al kid-ya could have used these guys to do a real bombing


Post Extras: 

(back to basics)
06/23/06 06:33 PM
  Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: sarah_steve  |  Post 294720278, reply to 294720269 ] (Score: 1)

When you are living like feral puppies in an abandoned warehouse "a great undertaking" would tend to have some appeal for 20 year olds.

    "The Muslim mafia, their dhimmi's and the skinheads would be overjoyed to rid the forum of the only person that knows enough about Islam to counter the lies and obfuscations." _____ Heretic

Post Extras: 

(Son of Liberty)
06/23/06 06:57 PM
 Re: The Truth Behind the Exaggerated Threat against the Sears Tower  [ To: Baron_Stein  |  Post 294720308, reply to 294720091 ] (Score: 1)

Flag to: Baron_Stein, wile, Akerbeltz, HOUNDDAWG, BlondGermanNight, A_Bert, Mr_Kurtz, Liberty_Burning, rearguard, VictorP, GeorgeSalt, guenon68, DocLady, aerial, Emperor_Junior, Another1, ExiledInTaiwan

"The Report from Iron Mountain" is available online

   Protruth is a lamebrain loser. Watch this spot for identification of other lamebrain losers.


Transcript of Press Conference on FL Terrorism Indictments

6/23/2006 7:59:00 PM


To: National Desk

Contact: U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2008 202-514-1888 (TDD); Web:

WASHINGTON, June 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is the transcript of a press conference today announcing the Florida terrorism indictments:

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Good morning. I'm joined today by FBI Deputy Director John Pistole, and Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher of the Criminal Division.

The convergence of globalization and technology has created a new brand of terrorism. Today, terrorist threats may come from smaller, more loosely defined cells who are not affiliated with al Qaeda, but who are inspired by a violent jihadist message. And left unchecked, these home grown terrorists may prove to be as dangerous as groups like al Qaeda.

Recent events around the world have demonstrated the challenges posed by home grown terrorists who live in the area that they intend to attack. The terrorists and suspected terrorists in Madrid and London and Toronto were not sleeper operatives sent on suicide missions. They were students and businesspeople and members of the community. They were persons who, for whatever reason, came to view their home country as the enemy. And it's a problem that we face here in the United States as well.

As been reported, seven men were arrested yesterday in Miami on charges of conspiring to support the al Qaeda terrorist organization by planning attacks on numerous targets, including bombing the Sears Tower in Chicago, the FBI building in North Miami Beach, Florida, and other government buildings in Miami- Date County.

Now, fortunately, because of the fine work of law enforcement, these men were unable to advance their deadly plot beyond the initial planning phase. The seven men who were arrested, Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyblenson Lemorin and Rothschild Augustine, were named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Miami. The indictment charges four counts: conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, namely, al Qaeda; conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists; conspiracy to maliciously damage and destroy buildings by means of an explosive device; and conspiracy to levy war against the government of the United States.

These individuals wish to wage a, quote, "full ground war" against the United States. That quote is from the investigation of these individuals, who also allegedly stated the desire to, quote, "kill all the devils we can." They hoped for their attacks to be, quote, "just as good or greater than 9/11." The defendants, five American citizens, one legal permanent resident and one Haitian national in the United States illegally, are expected to make appearances at U.S. District Court in Miami today. As always, it is important to remind you that the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

The indictment alleges that Batiste, the ringleader of this group, intended to recruit and supervise individuals to organize and train for a mission of war against the United States. Batiste and his co-conspirators allegedly attempted to obtain the support of al Qaeda to achieve their goals.

They also took steps to carry out their plans for violent attacks on this nation. Those steps included seeking out uniforms and weapons, conducting reconnaissance, and taking bayat, the oath of allegiance to al Qaeda. We know this because an individual they thought was a member of al Qaeda was present at their meetings. In actuality, he was working with the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force.

If convicted, the defendants in this case each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison on the charges of conspiracy to provide material support or resources. The defendants also face a maximum of 20 years in prison on each charge of the conspiracy to destroy buildings by use of explosives and conspiracy to levy war against the United States.

And this case clearly demonstrates our commitment to preventing terrorism through energetic law enforcement efforts aimed at detecting and thwarting terrorist acts.

The arrests in today's indictments are the result of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Miami, which includes, among others, the Miami-Dade and the city of Miami police departments, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Criminal Investigation Unit at the Internal Revenue Service.

I am pleased by the cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement in taking down this group of individuals who wish to harm our country and its citizens. I want to thank FBI Deputy Director John Pistole in particular for the FBI's leadership in this investigation. I also thank the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, Alex Acosta and his office for their efforts in prosecuting this case, along with the Counterterrorism Section of the Criminal Division here at the Department of Justice headed by Alice Fisher.

I will now turn to John Pistole for remarks, and then we'll be glad to take your questions. John.

MR. PISTOLE: Thank you, Attorney General Gonzales. Good morning. Today's indictment is an important step forward in the war on terrorism here in the United States. As you know, the Department of Justice and the FBI's highest priority is preventing another terrorist attack. And thanks to the efforts of each agent and officer who worked on this investigation together, we identified and disrupted a terrorist plot before any harm could be done.

The investigation reveals outstanding work by the law enforcement community. It also reminds us that we have much more work to do. As the indictment alleges, the threat of terrorism exists right here on American soil. Like other groups we have detected, and the Department has prosecuted over the last several years, these seven individuals are members of a home grown terrorist cell. They lived and worked in the United States and enjoyed all the freedoms our great nation offers. Yet they pledged their allegiance to al Qaeda, or at least to whom they thought was al Qaeda.

Their goal was simple: to commit attacks against America. They sought funding, support, materials and weapons for their mission. They initiated a plot to blow up targets, including the Sears Tower, as you've heard, and five government buildings, including the FBI office in Miami. They conducted surveillance. They conspired to murder countless Americans through attacks that would be, in their words, quote, "just as good or greater than 9/11," as the Attorney General has mentioned. But we preempted their plot.

This investigation reminds us that while we have made tremendous progress in combatting terrorism, the struggle is far from over. We cannot afford to become complacent, as the threat is real and the stakes are high.

Across the United States, the law enforcement community is rising to the challenge. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Miami, as you heard, led the effort to detect and disrupt this terror cell. And our success is due to the outstanding work of our partners in federal, state and local law enforcement.

We worked closely with a number of them, as the Attorney General has mentioned, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, IRS Criminal Investigative Division, ATF, Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Secret Service, Miami Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department, the Mirimar Police Department, Broward County Sheriff's Office and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, and the Hollywood Police Department.

As you can see, it was a collaborative effort. I'd like to thank these agencies for their work and for their continued partnership.

This investigation is a success, but our work is not finished. The FBI and our partners will continue to be vigilant in fighting terrorism both here and abroad. We will continue to work with our partners throughout the country towards our common mission, to secure American citizens and safeguard American freedoms.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Sir, has every known member of the cell been arrested?


QUESTION: Every known member of the cell been arrested?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: What I can say is the investigation continues, but I can't comment beyond that. And let me just remind everyone, because I know there's going to be a desire for additional facts. This is an ongoing criminal investigation, and so, with respect to disclosure of facts beyond the indictment, I can't do that.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about the cooperating informants, the one who posed as an al Qaeda representative? How was he known to the members of the plot?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: He was known as someone who was a member of al Qaeda, but I can't provide any additional information beyond that.

QUESTION: Did any of the men have any actual contact with any members of al Qaeda that you know of?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: The answer to that is no.

QUESTION: Did they have any means to -- I mean, did you find any explosives, weapons?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: And you raise a good point. You know, our philosophy here is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible, because we don't know what we don't know about a terrorism plot. And that once we have sufficient information to move forward with the prosecution, that's what we do. And that is what has occurred here.

And so, what we have is a situation where individuals here in America made plans to hurt Americans. They did take some overt acts. They did request materials. They did request equipment. They did request funding. They took an allegiance, swore allegiance to al Qaeda. We clearly believe there is sufficient information, sufficient facts to support this prosecution. And, therefore, we took action when we did, because we believe we have an obligation to prevent America from another attack here.

QUESTION: From reading the indictment, it appears that about a month ago their plans sort of fell apart, which raises a couple of questions. One, it appears they have a real criminal intent, but did they have the capability; that is, were they just naive and incompetent? In other words, were you ever afraid that they could really pull off this plot?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: I think it's dangerous for us to try to make an evaluation case by case as we look at potential terrorist plots and making a decision, well, this is a really dangerous group, this is not a really dangerous group. We look at the facts in every particular case. And we felt that the combination of the planning and the overt acts taken were sufficient to support this prosecution. And that's why we took this action.

There is no immediate threat. We've already publicly announced there's no immediate threat to facilities in Miami, no immediate threat to the Sears Tower. Obviously, part of the reason for that is because they didn't have the materials they requested. They did receive the weapons, at least we don't know of. But nonetheless, they did take sufficient steps that we believe does support this prosecution. That's why we took the action that we did.

QUESTION: I guess the key question becomes, we know that the FBI and law enforcement is trying to be proactive, in front of these types of things. But exactly who was doing the initiating here I guess is the question. Did they request these materials, or did the informant initiate that part of this alleged plot?

MR. PISTOLE: The lead defendant made the first indication of intent to commit an attack, and that was against the FBI office in Miami. From that stemmed the conversations and the evidence developed from that.

QUESTION: May I ask you a question about whether the group ever took steps to try to acquire explosives?

MR. PISTOLE: There was discussion about different types of weaponry, small arms and others, and explosives. And I'll just say there was some report about ammonium nitrate that I've heard out there. There was no discussion of ammonium nitrate.

QUESTION: Well, did they ever try to -- can you say whether they ever tried to acquire explosives?

MR. PISTOLE: Not independent of what we were aware of.

QUESTION: Was there anything against the Sears Tower except this one apparent just kind of a mention of the Sears Tower? It doesn't look like they ever took pictures or?

MR. PISTOLE: One of the individuals was familiar with the Sears Tower, had worked in Chicago and had been there, so was familiar with the tower. But in terms of the plans, it was more aspirational than operational.

QUESTION: Did the informant wear a wire? Do you have any tapes of these discussions?

MR. PISTOLE: Let's just say we have good evidence.

QUESTION: Can you talk about how these men found each other? Was there a group or organization that brought them together initially?

MR. PISTOLE: They were already together, yes.

QUESTION: Well, a logical follow-up to that then is, why would a group of men of seemingly different ethnic backgrounds -- I'm not the names expert or whatever on this -- why would they get together? What do they have against the United States? Why would they pledge allegiance to al Qaeda?

MR. PISTOLE: They shared a common ideology, which I think you have heard some about or you will later in the Miami press conference. So there was a common ideology. They had other similarities which will be -- more information will be provided on that letter.

QUESTION: Well, I'm just trying to know what they had against the United States.

MR. PISTOLE: They did not believe that the government of the United States had legal authority over them. They were separatists in the sense of not believing that the U.S. government had the legal authority to enforce certain laws against them. And so it was from that ideology that some of this stemmed. So -- yes?

QUESTION: Was there any discussion of locations here in the Washington area as being possible targets?


QUESTION: And is there anything in the criminal background of these gentlemen that already put them on perhaps a more or less watch list for you all?

MR. PISTOLE: Not a watch list from a terrorism standpoint. Several of them had prior arrests and -- again, for traditional criminal activity as opposed to any terrorism-related cell.

QUESTION: Before your informant got involved in this, were these guys out there trying to recruit or solicit help and that's how they became known to you and the informant?

MR. PISTOLE: Let's just say that they were doing things that came to our attention through people who were alert in the community, so.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Another question of this was they become cooperative with major newspapers reporting this morning. Did the DOJ approve the legality of this? And did this have anything to do with maybe catching up these people or any other terrorist --

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: No to your last question. I think Stuart Levey has already commented on the effectiveness of the Treasury program. As to your first question, the Department of Justice has reviewed the program, and we believe it is lawful.

QUESTION: For either you or Mr. Pistole, you mentioned that these groups thought they -- that the United States did not have any authority over them. There had been other radical black Muslim groups that called themselves a variety of names, including the Moors, who thought that the United States had no authority over them, that the government owed them money. Are they tied into those groups, or did they sort of spring up on their own?

MR. PISTOLE: I think at this point it would be best to defer to what's in the indictment and see what is pled later on, so. Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit more about their background? Did they live in other parts of the country? You mentioned Chicago. Did they live in Atlanta? Did they live in any other --

MR. PISTOLE: Primarily South Florida.

QUESTION: The charges mostly surround providing material support to al Qaeda. It looks like these guys were actually asking for material support form what they thought was al Qaeda. These guys couldn't buy boots on their own? They don't sound like very sophisticated or, you know, effective operators.

MR. PISTOLE: What we try to do, between the Department, the FBI, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, is to be alert to any activity that may cause harm to U.S. citizens. And it's part of that assessment process through any investigation that we assess the means, the intent, the motives, and the capabilities of any individual or group of individuals. And that's what's happened in this investigation.

QUESTION: I see in the indictment that Batiste in March asked the cooperating informant for a rental van and a video camera to do surveillance on the FBI building. And three days later, he gave video footage. Was the video camera provided by the cooperating informant to case FBI and the rental van to do that surveillance?

MR. PISTOLE: I don't believe that's contained in the indictment, so I'll stay away from that.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: What does this say about the importance of keeping tabs on the population domestically, for example, through wiretaps?

MR. PISTOLE: Well, the key is that Americans are vigilant about activities that may lead to terrorist attacks. We talk about home grown terrorists. We've seen several examples of that over the last couple of years. We see the Canadian group, 17 individuals recently arrested.

These are individuals who are intent upon causing harm to their homeland, and we use all lawful tools that have been made available to us to make sure that we're doing everything humanly possibly to prevent the next terrorist attack.

QUESTION: The indictment, you began talking to these people last December, and the last overt act here is in April. Why did it take till now to bring the indictment?

MR. PISTOLE: As the Attorney General mentioned, there are a number of phases to an investigation, and a decision is made in each of those investigations uniquely as to when the best time to charge and to prevent the terrorist attack occurring. And so that's what's happened in this instance.

QUESTION: You mentioned in the indictment and in the press conference here explosives. What type of explosives did they discuss?

MR. PISTOLE: I think the indictment just refers to explosives. I'll just leave it at that for now.

QUESTION: May I ask you a question about the charging decision? As a legal matter, and following up on one of my colleague's questions, they're charged with providing material support for a terrorist organization, namely, al Qaeda, even though there was no actual connection to al Qaeda. Can you explain a little bit the basis of that charge if there was no connection to al Qaeda?

MS. FISHER: Sure. These charges are conspiracy to commit material support to an organization, but it's charged under 2339(a) as opposed to 2339(b), where the support actually is to a specific member of al Qaeda. In this case it wasn't, and so we charged it under 2339(a) as applicable.

QUESTION: But what's -- just the elements of the offense here, as long as they intend to support a terror organization, that's good enough for the statute? It doesn't have to be an actual terror organization?

MS. FISHER: Under 2339(a), that's correct. That's the laws that Congress has given us. 2339(b), we list a specific designated terrorist organization, such as Hezbollah or al Qaeda. But under 2339(a), it doesn't have to be a listed organization.

QUESTION: Is there any connections, common telephone numbers or any other connections between any of the defendants in this indictment and any of the 19 hijackers that were trained in Florida and/or any of the people charged in that indictment in South Florida?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: If it's not in the indictment, I don't have any additional facts on that.

QUESTION: Given the reference in the indictment to the fact that this operation was kind of breaking down in late May, you kind of touched on it I think with Terry's question. But can you explain a little bit more as to why you intended to move -- or why you moved when you did? Was the -- did the informant's identity become known?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Well, let me just say this. There is going to be additional information given out of Miami. This was a decision made by the folks in Miami, by the career folks, the career investigators, the career prosecutors. And so they can give you more information as to why -- more specifics about the timing of the charge.

MODERATOR: Two more questions.

QUESTION: What country was the legal permanent resident from? And can you tell us which of the two were not American citizens?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: The country is Haiti, and I don't know, but we can certainly get you the information as to the two that were non-U.S. citizens.


QUESTION: Did they actually receive any funding? And if so, how much funding did they receive?

ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Okay. I'm not going -- I'm told I can't comment on that. It's not in the indictment. All right. One final question. Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: I'm just curious about this meeting that occurred on December 16th, the initial meeting. Was that prompted by the informant or was it prompted by Batiste?

MR. PISTOLE: The initial meeting occurred as a result of Batiste disclosing his intent to commit an attack, and that was provided to us. And it was a follow-up to that.

QUESTION: Was he disclosing an intent to work with al Qaeda to commit an attack, or just he wanted to commit an attack, and then the informant came forward as an al Qaeda person?

MR. PISTOLE: I don't believe the indictment specifies on that, so I'll defer on that.


MR. PISTOLE: Thank you.



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