Saturday, September 02, 2006

Miami 'Terror' Plot Targets Selected By FBI Informant

The June arrests of seven men in Miami for conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower and FBI offices in various cities, was not as big of a threat as the bedwetter bloggers were claiming when the news first broke.

In fact, much of the directing of the "plot" was done by cooperating witnesses (informants) working for the FBI.

The "conspirators" were not your typical disciplined terrorist operatives:

The plot featured self-proclaimed militant religious leaders who referred to themselves as kings, talked of establishing their own nation inside the United States, called their headquarters an embassy and discussed plans to train their recruits to use bows and arrows. One of their quixotic notions was to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower.

(Narseal) Batiste's father, a Christian preacher and former contractor who lives in Louisiana, told the news media after the indictment that his son was "not in his right mind" and needed psychiatric treatment.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, separating serious terrorist plotters from delusional dreamers has proved one of the FBI's most challenging tasks. The effort is complicated by the bureau's frequent use of informants who sometimes play active roles in the plotting.

It is complicated further by our grandstanding Attorney General's desire to make the administration look effective in battling the terrorists in our midst.

On June 23, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales held a news conference to announce the destruction of a terrorist cell inside the United States, hailing "our commitment to preventing terrorism through energetic law enforcement efforts aimed at detecting and thwarting terrorist acts." ...

But lawyers for the defendants have raised questions about where a government sting ends and entrapment begins. Not only did government informants provide money and a meeting place for Batiste and his followers, but they also gave them video cameras for conducting surveillance, as well as cellphones, and suggested that their first target be a Miami FBI office, court records show.

At the hearing, Batiste's attorney, John Wylie, showed that the FBI's investigation found no evidence that his client had met with any real terrorist, received e-mails or wire transfers from the Middle East, possessed any al-Qaeda literature, or had even a picture of bin Laden. ...

By mid-November, the FBI decided to take a more active role. Agents introduced a more experienced Middle Eastern-born informant, CW2, to play the role of a potential financier to prevent Batiste from seeking money elsewhere. CW2, according to court papers, had worked for the FBI for six years and provided information that led to the arrests of two individuals on "terrorist-related charges."

But CW2 soon also took a key role in the plotting, suggesting targets and supplying videotaping equipment, according to the court papers. His reward was $17,000 the FBI paid for his services, and approval of his petition for political asylum in the United States. ...

Acting on instructions from the FBI, CW2 told the group that his al-Qaeda bosses were planning to attack FBI buildings in Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Miami. He asked that Batiste and his group assist by providing video of the Miami FBI building, "which would be sent back to al Qaeda overseas," according to court papers. He also gave Batiste a video camera.

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