Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sears Tower plot trial begins

Seven men accused of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago have go on trial in Miami Florida.

The men intended to ignite a guerrilla war that would bring down the US government, federal prosecutors said.

Defence lawyers said FBI informants had devised the plot and the defendants had played along to con money from them.

"These defendants came together for one sole purpose, to
wage a holy war against the United States," said prosecutor Richard
Gregorie in his opening statement.

He said they wanted to bomb a number of landmark buildings and put poison in restaurant salt shakers.

There would be no survivors from the alleged Sears Tower
bomb, Mr Gregorie said, because the defendants planned to shoot anyone
who escaped.

'Con game'

But lawyers for the defendants said the purported plot
was the inspiration of two paid FBI informants, one of whom posed as an
al-Qaeda operative.

Narseal Batiste (l) and Stanley Grant Phanor, two of those charged
Lawyers for the accused said the case against them was overblown

The defendants hoped to con the two men of $50,000 (£24,500) they had allegedly offered the group, their attorneys said.

"All he wanted to do was get his money and run and who
better to con than somebody who was supposedly al-Qaeda," said Ana
Jhones, attorney for Narseal Batiste, the alleged ringleader of the
seven men.

Government officials described them after their arrest
as "home-grown terrorists" but said they posed no real threat because
they had no actual al-Qaeda contacts, no weapons and no means of
carrying out the attacks.

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