June 23, 2006
MEN CHARGED WITH CONSPIRING TO SUPPORT AL QAEDA, ATTACK TARGETS IN THE UNITED
Seven Florida men have been arrested on charges that include
conspiring to provide material support to the al Qaeda terrorist organization and
conspiracy to levy war against the United States
by discussing and planning attacks on targets in the United
States, including the Sears
Tower in Chicago and the FBI
building and other federal buildings in Florida,
the Department of Justice announced today.
The seven men - 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 the Southern District of Florida (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 by means of an explosive; and conspiring to levy war against the
government of the United States.
The defendants - five U.S.
citizens, one legal permanent resident, and one Haitian national in the country
illegally - have all been arrested and are expected to make appearances at U.S.
District Court in Miami today.
The indictment alleges that, beginning in November 2005 and
continuing to the present, Bastiste recruited and supervised individuals to
organize and train for a mission to wage war against the United
States, including a plot to destroy the Sears
Tower by explosives. Batiste and
his co-conspirators allegedly 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 allegedly 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
Batiste then allegedly 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 allegedly
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
According to the indictment, the plot advanced further
through meetings with other co-defendants. In one of the meetings on Feb. 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 allegedly
swore bayat, or an oath of loyalty to al Qaeda.
"The convergence of globalization and technology has
created a new brand of terrorism. Homegrown terrorists may prove to be as
dangerous as groups like al Qaeda," said Attorney General Gonzales.
"I am pleased by the cooperation among federal, state and local law
enforcement in taking down this group of individuals who wished to harm our
country and its citizens."
U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of the Southern District
of Florida stated, "Batiste and his group had the intent and took several
steps toward fulfilling their plan of blowing up the Sears
Tower and the Miami FBI building.
They were never able to obtain, however, the explosives or access needed to
implement their plan. The South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force successfully
performed its mission to prevent terrorism by identifying, disrupting and
prosecuting these individuals before they posed an immediate threat to our
FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole said, "Today's
announcement marks yet another important victory in the war on terrorism. It is
also, however, a grim reminder of the persistent
threat environment that exists here at home and underscores the need for
continued vigilance and cooperation. I'd like to commend all the members on our
Joint Terrorism Task Forces who work tirelessly day and night to interdict
these threats and hold accountable those who seek to inflict harm on the U.S."
If convicted, the defendants in this case 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.
The arrests are the result of an investigation led by the
FBI's South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Miami.
The JTTF is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies
whose primary work is to identify and disrupt terrorist cells before they
commit acts of terror. Members of the JTTF include the U.S. Attorney's Office
for the Southern District of Florida; the FBI; U.S. Immigrations and Customs
Enforcement; U.S. Secret Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives; the Internal Revenue Service; the Bureau of Prisons; the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement; Miami Dade Police Department; City of Miami
Police Department; Broward Sheriff's Office; Palm Beach County's Sheriff's
Office; Ft. Lauderdale Police Department; Hollywood Police Department; and the
Miramar Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys
Jacqueline Arango and Richard Getchell of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the
Southern District of Florida.
The FBI encourages the public to
report any suspected violations of U.S. federal law. You can do so by calling your
local FBI office, Legal Attache office, or by submitting a tip via the FBI Tips
and Public Leads form https://tips.fbi.gov/
Office listing by State | Field Office
listing by City | Field Office Jurisdictions
Find Your Local Field Office by Using
Your ZIP Code