Seven charged over ‘Chicago plot’


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Seven charged over 'Chicago plot'

The US authorities have charged seven suspected militants in connection with an 
alleged plot to destroy the country's tallest building.

They were planning to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower, the FBI says. It adds that 
the seven had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda, but had no contacts with it.

They were arrested at a warehouse in Miami, during an undercover operation.

The group - infiltrated by an agent posing as an al-Qaeda member - includes two 
foreigners and five US citizens.

US Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales said the group of "home-grown terrorists" 
were inspired by "a violent jihadist message".

"They were persons who for whatever reason came to view their home country as 
the enemy," he told reporters.


According to a federal indictment, the men were conspiring to "levy war against 
the United States".

They have been charged with conspiring to blow up both the Sears Tower and the 
FBI building in North Miami Beach.

The indictment names Narseal Batiste, who allegedly asked an undercover agent he
thought was from al-Qaeda for help to build an "army to wage jihad", the 
indictment said.

He is said to have told the agent he and his "soldiers" wanted al-Qaeda training
and planning for a "full ground war" against the US in order to "kill all the 
devils we can".

110 floors, 442m (1,450ft) high
Construction began in 1970, completed in 1973
Tallest building in the US

Third tallest in world, after Taiwan's Taipei 101 and Kuala Lumpur's Petronas 

Commissioned by Sears, Roebuck and Company, the world's largest retailer at the 

Designed by architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

His mission would "be just as good or greater than 9/11", Mr Batiste said, 
according to the indictment.

No weapons were found in the Miami warehouse, and the seven had not posed any 
immediate danger, the FBI said.

Deputy FBI leader John Pistole said the plot had been "aspirational" rather than

Mr Gonzales said the lack of direct link to al-Qaeda did not make the group any 
less dangerous.

"Today terrorist threats come from a smaller, more loosely defined cells not 
affiliated to al-Qaeda," he said.

"Left unchecked these home-grown terrorists may prove as dangerous as groups 
like al-Qaeda."

Neighbours in Miami's poor Liberty City area said the men apparently slept in 
the warehouse where they were arrested.

"They would come out late at night and exercise. It seemed like a military boot 
camp they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard," said 
Tashawn Rose.

However a man claiming links to the arrested men told the news channel CNN that 
they were a peaceful religious group, who studied Allah.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/06/23 23:20:41 GMT


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