Black Muslim group wanted to join with Al Qaeda in plot to "kill all the devils we can" - 5 Americans and 2 foreigners held
June 23, 2006
MIM: According to BBC reports the FBI is indicting the men on 4 counts of plotting to attack the United States. Two of the four black Muslim men arrested were illegal aliens. The men referred to themselve as the 'Seas (or Seeds) of David'. They overtly recruited local youth for their training camp and openly conducted military style exercises, with men in camoflage standing guard outside the warehouse which they used as a barracks.
Bomb plot aimed to 'kill all the devils'Court documents: Black Muslim group thought informant was with al-Qaida NBC News and news services
Updated: 9:42 a.m. ET June 23, 2006
MIAMI - Following a warehouse raid and their arrests a day earlier, seven young men were charged Friday with conspiring to work with al-Qaida to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and federal buildings. Court documents obtained by NBC News said the ringleader boasted of wanting to "kill all the devils we can" in a mission "just as good or greater than 9/11."
The seven individuals indicted by a federal grand jury were taken into custody Thursday when authorities swarmed a Miami warehouse that had been used by a Black Muslim group.
According to the court documents, a man identified as Narseal Batiste was the recruiter who wanted to organize "soldiers" to build an Islamic army to wage holy war.
The others were identified as Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyglenson Lemorin, and Rotschild Augustine.
Batiste allegedly met last December in a hotel room with someone posing as a representative of al-Qaida — someone law enforcement officials say was actually an agent of a country friendly to the United States.
The indictment described the alleged scheme this way:
Batiste initially asked for "boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, and vehicles," as well as $50,000 in cash, to help him build an "Islamic Army to wage jihad."
'Good or greater than 9/11'
At a meeting on March 16 at a warehouse in the Miami area, the seven defendants discussed a plot to bomb FBI buildings in five cities, and each swore an oath of loyalty to al-Qaida before the purported al-Qaida representative.
The person they believed to be an al-Qaida representative gave Batiste a video camera, which Batiste said he would use to film the North Miami Beach FBI building, the indictment said. At a March 26 meeting, Batiste and Augustin provided the foreign agent with photographs of the FBI building, as well as video of other Miami government buildings, and discussed the plot to bomb the FBI building.
But on May 24, the indictment said, Batiste told the foreign agent that he was experiencing delays "because of various problems within his organization." Batiste said he wanted to continue his mission and his relationship with al-Qaida nonetheless, the document said.
The informant's ability to track the group from its early stages had neutralized the threat.
"There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment.
One source said the suspects had been trying to buy weapons and other things needed to carry out attacks. Ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer compound that can also be used as an explosive, was reportedly among the items.
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is scheduled to hold a news conference Friday to discuss the arrests. A news conference also will be held in Miami.
'Like military boot camp'
"They would come out late at night and exercise," said Tashawn Rose. "It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard."
Residents living near the warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their group. Rose 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."
A man who called himself Brother Corey and claimed to be a member of the group told CNN late Thursday that the individuals worship at the building and call themselves the "Seas of David."
He dismissed any suggestion that the men were contemplating violence. "We are peaceful," he said. He added that the group has "soldiers" in Chicago but is not a terrorist organization.
Xavier Smith, who attends the nearby United Christian Outreach, said the men would often come by the church and ask for water.
"They were very private," said Smith.
Security at the 110-floor Sears Tower, a Chicago landmark, was ramped up after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the 103rd-floor skydeck was closed for about a month and a half.
"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," the statement said.
The warehouse owner declined comment. "I heard the news just like you guys," George F. Mobassaleh told the AP. "I can't talk to you."
South Florida has been linked to several terrorism investigations in the past. Several of the Sept. 11 hijackers lived and trained in the area, including ringleader Mohamed Atta and several plots by Cuban Americans against the government of Fidel Castro have also been based in Miami.
Jose Padilla, a former resident once accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive bomb in the country, is charged in Miami with being part of a North American terror support cell to al-Qaida and other violent Islamic extremist organizations. He has been in federal custody since 2002 and is scheduled for trial in September.
Padilla was originally designated an "enemy combatant" and held for three years without charge by the Bush administration shortly after his May 2002 arrest at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.NBC News' Pete Williams, Jim Popkin, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.