Tuesday, July 18, 2006

FBI Paid Informants In Suspected Terror Group

Exclusive: FBI Paid Informants In Suspected Terror Group
Liberty City Seven Charged With Plotting To Blow Up Chicago's Sears Tower And Other Buildings
Jeff Burnside

POSTED: 9:20 am EDT July 16, 2006
UPDATED: 11:21 am EDT July 16, 2006

MIAMI -- An unreleased court filing from the U.S. Attorney's office in Miami, obtained by NBC 6, reveals compelling new details about the investigation into terror suspects arrested earlier this month in Liberty City and charged with plotting to blow up Chicago’s Sears Tower and other buildings and to "wage jihad on America."

The document also contains information challenging statements that the suspects were entrapped by an FBI confidential witness posing as an al-Qaida operative, according to NBC6 investigative reporter Jeff Burnside.

A judge requested the filing to obtain permission for police to tap phones used by the defendants. The document contained several key assertions, including:

- The two confidential witnesses being used by government investigators had been on the FBI payroll for years as informants in other, unrelated cases, and both lived in the Miami area.

- Five or six other "soldiers" are accused of criminal conduct in the document, yet they are not named, suggesting the U.S. Attorney's office may be offering them something in return for testifying against their seven comrades already in custody.

- Alleged ringleader Narseal Batiste told the confidential witness that he had "100 Generals" in Miami, Chicago, Louisiana, Alabama and elsewhere.

Batiste grew impatient with the lack of action by the confidential witness who was posing as an al-Qaida operative. The raid on the suspects’ headquarters was done, in part, because law enforcement was worried the suspects would instead find real terrorists to help them bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Batiste then grew suspicious of the confidential witness because, according to the document, he asked Batiste too many questions and asked him to write down his mission. It appears the FBI's man on the inside was trying to get Batiste to document his own criminal conduct, which would have supplemented incriminating evidence in videotaped meetings and recorded phone calls.

Batiste did, in fact, write down two lists of equipment and weapons he needed. He's accused of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower and several government buildings around Miami, including the Miami Police Department and FBI regional headquarters building in North Miami Beach.

The document said the FBI gave a cell phone to its confidential witness who, in turn, gave it to Batiste to use. That way, the government was better able to monitor Batiste’s phone calls, according to the document.

NBC 6 will air additional reports on this document in coming days.

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