Jim Kouri
Liberty City Six al Qaeda cell convicted for conspiracy to kill Americans
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By Jim Kouri
May 20, 2009

The following report is based on documents obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police's Terrorism Committee from the US Department of Justice's Counterterrorism Unit.

After a three-month trial, a Miami jury convicted five men of multiple charges that include conspiring to provide material support to the al Qaeda terrorist organization and conspiracy to wage war against the U.S. by discussing and planning attacks on targets in the U.S., including the Sears Tower in Chicago and the FBI building and other federal buildings in Florida. A sixth defendant was acquitted on all counts.

The six men — Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, and Rothschild Augustine — were named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida (Miami) in June 2006.

The indictment charged four counts: conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda (Count 1); conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists (Count 2); conspiracy to maliciously damage and destroy by means of an explosive (Count 3); and conspiring to levy war against the government of the U.S. (Count 4).

Narseal Batiste was convicted of all 4 counts; Patrick Abraham was convicted on Counts 1, 2, and 3; Stanley Grant Phanor was convicted on Counts 1 and 2; Burson Augustin was convicted on Counts 1 and 2; Rothschild Augustine was convicted on Counts 1 and 2; and Naudimar Herrera was acquitted on all counts.

According to evidence presented at trial, beginning in November 2005 and continuing to the date of their arrests, Batiste recruited and supervised individuals to organize and train for a mission to wage war against the U.S., including a plot to destroy the Sears Tower by explosives.

Batiste and his co-conspirators attempted to obtain the support of al Qaeda to achieve their goals and discussed this desire with an individual cooperating with law enforcement who posed as a member of al Qaeda. Believing they were dealing with that terrorist group, in March 2006, Batiste and other defendants pledged an oath of allegiance to al Qaeda and supported a plan to destroy FBI buildings in the United States by taking photos of the FBI Building in North Miami Beach, Florida, and other federal buildings in Miami-Dade County.

Batiste then took reconnaissance photographs of the FBI Building in North Miami Beach, the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building, federal courthouse buildings, the Federal Detention Center and the Miami Police Department. In addition to conducting surveillance, the defendants provided the individual, whom they believed was an al Qaeda member, with a list of materials and equipment needed to wage jihad, including boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios and vehicles.

In December 2005, at one of a number of meetings with this person, Batiste spoke of using an army of "soldiers" and explosives to destroy the Sears Tower. In a subsequent meeting, he provided the individual with a list of other materials needed in his plot to take down the Sears Tower, including radios, binoculars, bullet proof vests, firearms, vehicles and $50,000 cash.

According to the evidence, the plot advanced further through meetings with other co-defendants. In one of the meetings on February 19, 2006, Batiste allegedly told the "al Qaeda representative" that he wanted to attend al Qaeda training with five of his soldiers, with a mission to wage a "full ground war" against the United States in order to "kill all the devils we can," which "will be just as good or greater than 9/11."

Ultimately, all seven of the defendants swore bayat, or an oath of loyalty to al Qaeda. During his first meeting with the undercover FBI informant, Batiste explained that he was in the same position as Jeff Fort, the leader of the El-Rukn gang in Chicago who, in the 1980's, had negotiated with Libya to commit terrorist acts in the U.S. for $2.5 million.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 26, 2009. At sentencing, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 15 years each in prison on the charges of conspiracy to provide material support or resources, and a maximum of 20 years in prison each on the charges of conspiracy to destroy by use of explosives and conspiracy to levy war against the United States.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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