Friday, June 23, 2006

Anticipating the Miami Terror Cell Presser

Later this morning, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will give a press conference where he's expected to give more details about the terror cell that was arrested late yesterday.

Thus far, we know that seven people were arrested and the raids occurred on several locations, including a warehouse in Liberty City, Miami.

Things to look for in the press conference:
1) How the AG labels the group. Will he call them al Qaeda collaborators, wannabes, or independent jihadis who shared a common goal? My guess is that they'll be treated as independent jihadis who sought to emulate al Qaeda tactics and even tried to contact al Qaeda terrorists to further their plans.

2) More details about the targets. We know that the Sears Tower was at least one of the targets. What other areas were targeted? Buildings in Miami, including the federal building in downtown Miami are likely to be mentioned.

3) Background on the group. Who are these people and what were they doing before the FBI managed to infiltrate the group?

4) References to the domestic surveillance program. Expect some reference to the NSA program of eavesdropping on transjurisdictional communications (between the US and foreign countries), which tipped off law enforcement about potential terror ties).

This last part is going to be interesting, especially in light of the newest NYT revelation that the US is examining financial data to look for terrorist money laundering and money transfers. The program was instituted shortly after 9/11 as part of the Patriot Act. In other words, it wasn't a super secret program, but part of the changes made to federal law meant to improve law enforcement's capabilities to catch terrorists trying to secure or transfer funds within the US. Financial institutions were already required to flag certain kinds of transfers - such as those above certain dollar amounts and other suspicious activities. Macranger has more.

Meanwhile CNN is reporting that this latest plot was meant to conduct attacks on a scale greater than 9/11.

Here's a copy of the indictment. The seven defendants conspired, confederated with, and agreed to provide material support to al Qaeda. The plot included destroying FBI and other federal buildings in the continental US. The ringleader of this particular cell is Narseal Batiste, "who allegedly told a federal undercover agent who he thought was a member of al Qaeda that he was organizing a mission to build an Islamic army to wage a jihad in the United States."
The document says that Batiste "recruited and supervised individuals in order to organize and train for a mission to wage war against the United States government, which included a plot to destroy by explosives the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois," the nation's tallest building.

Others noting the Miami terror bust: AJ Strata (who I hope gets his technical difficulties fixed soon - he's on my morning must read list) and James Joyner looks at the network tv coverage and finds some interesting priorities.

As was expected, CAIR is trying to get ahead of the curve and has scheduled a press conference of its own.
CAIR National Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed said: “The American Muslim community is extremely concerned about these disturbing reports. We stand with local and national law enforcement authorities in seeking to keep our nation safe and secure.”

Ahmed added that CAIR is urging police departments nationwide to step up patrols near mosques and other Islamic Institutions to help prevent any possible backlash resulting from these arrests.
Maybe if CAIR did more to out the jihadis in its midst we wouldn't have to worry so much about the possibility of a backlash. The fact is that quite a few mosques around the country are home to Islamists and jihadis who preach openly about causing mayhem and spreading Islam via jihad. Some talk of da'wa. Moderates who see and hear this have to choose congregations that aren't involved in such talk - and are reluctant to speak out for fear of harm to themselves from the violent elements.

The text of AG Gonzales' press remarks is here:
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 wished 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 conspiracy to destroy buildings by use of explosives and conspiracy to levy war against the United States.
I would assume that the illegal alien would be deported at the conclusion of the matter, regardless of the outcome. It will be interesting to see the kind of evidence that the government produces in support of this case.

Hot Air has a good roundup.

QandO notes that there are lots of similarities between the Miami 7 and the Canada 17.

Malkin has a history of jihad in the US.

Others blogging: Assorted Babble, Sister Toldjah, Stuck on Stupid, Ed Morrissey, Dumb Ox,

Posted to: Mudville Gazette and Basil's Blog.

KLo at the Corner makes a similar observation to mine about CAIR's response to the indictments:
Just heard part of the CAIR news conference on the Miami cell. An official instructed the media to "stop calling these individuals Muslims." If I were a CAIR official, I'd be more concerned with why one of the members of the cell indicated — I'm getting this from the indictment — he was building an "Islamic army."
From the some folks just don't quite get it department, Mahablog thinks that this whole thing is overblown and that this somehow undermines the flypaper strategy. Maybe they'd know that while most flies eventually end up stuck in the flypaper, some flies do manage to evade the flypaper for a stretch of time. The terrorists that seek to do harm to this country are no different. Many of the jihadis went to Iraq and Afghanistan to try and fight the US - and most have died in the process. Some continue to try and get into position to attack the US here at home, but that doesn't mean that the flypaper strategy is wrong. The flypaper strategy is only part of a larger campaign against the jihadis. We'd be remiss not to make sure that terrorists don't try to do something here at home while we're eliminating them overseas.

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