Thursday, June 22, 2006

Terror Cell Broken In Miami

The FBI has conducted a raid in Miami and made several arrests. The raids are being considered counterterrorism and that law enforcement has infiltrated a cell that thought it was plotting terrorism in conjunction with al Qaeda. Sounds big (quite possibly the understatement of the day).

CNN reports that seven arrests were made in conjunction with the raid. The CNN banner (at 9:04PM EDT) reads that the raids were conducted targeting domestic terrorism. Well, that clears things up, don't you think? Terror plots against domestic targets conducted by whom exactly? Militias? Jihadis?
The arrests were made in connection with the early stages of a plot to attack Chicago's Sears Tower and the FBI building in Miami, sources told CNN.

Officials said no weapons or bomb-making materials had been found in the searches so far. The Miami area is under no imminent threat, according to the FBI.

Law enforcement sources told CNN the seven arrests were made in connection with "suspected domestic terrorist activity," and that documents related to the investigation have been sealed.

One of the arrests was made before Thursday, officials said.

The FBI said one search warrant was being executed in a warehouse near a housing project in Liberty City, a predominantly black and low-income area of Miami.

"We are conducting a number of arrests and searches, and we'll have more about that when the operation is completed, probably tomorrow morning," FBI Director Robert Mueller told CNN's Larry King in an interview to be broadcast Thursday night.

"Because it's an ongoing operation, we really can't get into details," Mueller said. "But whenever we undertake an operation like this, we would not do it without the approval of a judge. We've got search warrants and arrest warrants and the like. ...."
Okay, that doesn't clear things up much.

ABC comes through with a huge update. And lots of interesting tidbits:
ABC News has learned that federal agents, including the FBI, are launching a series of raids tonight targeting a suspected terror cell based in Miami. According to sources familiar with the investigation, the group allegedly planned to bomb the FBI building in Miami and the Sears Tower in Chicago.

The group has been under surveillance for some time and was infilitrated by a government informant who allegedly led them to believe he was an Islamic radical. The suspects are described as African Americans and at least one man of Caribbean descent.
Well, Allah breaks down the tally of those arrested. Five are US citizens. One is an illegal alien from Haiti. One is a permanent resident of the US from an unnamed country. Ed Morrissey muses that this group could be a homegrown jihadis cell akin to the Canada 17 and comments on CNN's Larry King who had FBI Director Bill Mueller on the show, and Mueller would only state that there was an ongoing operation.

The target was the Sears Tower in Chicago.

The tallest building in the United States.

James Joyner sums this up with "Wow". Indeed.

The Miami Herald provides more details about the raids:
FBI agents backed by state and local law enforcement cordoned off an area of Liberty City and made several arrests on Thursday as part of what U.S. officials called a significant terror-related investigation.

There was no immediate threat to Miami, officials said. Formal details on the raid, which apparently focused on a warehouse, were to be released by U.S. officials at news conferences set for Friday in Miami and Washington.

About 20 FBI agents arrived on the scene at NW 15th Avenue, between 62nd and 63rd streets. They were backed up by state and local police officers.
More interesting is this tidbit:
Citing an investigation before Thursday's raid, the source said the group talked about an attack on the Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI building in Miami -- but that they had no ``overt explosives or other things.''

The group thought that they ''were doing (the attacks) in conjunction with al Qaeda'' but were really dealing with'' undercover law enforcement, the official said.

It was ''pretty much talk, we were on top of them,'' the source said.

A man who lives across the street from the warehouse where the search warrant was served described the suspects as an unusual group of men, almost cultist, who wore military-style clothes and kept to themselves.

''They reminded me a lot of the followers of Yahweh Ben Yahweh,'' he said, referring to a cult of Muslim that flourished in Miami's Liberty City in the 1980. That group was led by a man known as Brother Love, who ordered followers to murder opponents and spawned a reign of terror in the neighborhood.
Here's a background on Yahweh Ben Yahweh and he's bad news in his own right - lots of murder raps at his feet, but that's only the impression of someone who lived in the area when his cult was active.

Charles at LGF has a series of running updates with reaction from the left side of the 'sphere.

Others blogging: Stop the ACLU, Blogs of War, The Real Ugly American.

memeorandum is tracking the building blogospheric reaction.

Macranger notes that the indictments will be unsealed tomorrow but will include an attempt to "maliciously damage or destroy" property "by means of an explosive." He also comments on the nature of the information being provided to the media - those ubiquitous leaks.

Jeff Goldstein wonders whether the searches were filed in triplicate. Just to be sure. No matter Jeff, the usual suspects will make their usual claims in defense of these upstanding individuals and members of the community. That said, there is always the possibility that the law enforcement officers were provided bad intel by their informant. The situation is still developing, but one has to wonder what this group of folks thought they would be doing with al Qaeda - roasting chestnuts over an open fire? It appears that they had some kind of predisposition to get involved with al Qaeda, and the reports thus far suggest that they were making moves towards preparing for an attack.

Dan Riehl has overhead imagery of the location in Liberty City via mapquest.

Iowa Voice wonders if the leaks will ever stop in referring to the NYT article about law enforcement scouring through financial records looking for terror ties (not a chance- lawhawk).
The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of 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 or into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.
Not only is the Times looking at a 5-year old story, but it's trying to refight the Patriot Act and other provisions designed to stop money laundering. Nice timing having that story come out on the same day that a major counterterrorism bust is made.

Others blogging: Stop the ACLU, Hugh Hewitt, Security Watchtower, and Sundries Shack.

Confederate Yankee is scanning DU so you don't have to. Hope he brought the hazmat gear. It's pretty nasty in there.

Wizbang has a comprehensive posting, including reaction from the Sears Tower. Still others posting: Interested Participant and Speed of Thought. Tomorrow looks like it's going to shape up to be a big day in the 'sphere.