Thursday, June 22, 2006
Terrorist suspects arrested.
(Please be patient. I have not found a way to retrieve my "Post Title" yet. :)
Jun 22, 9:45 PM EDT
Official: 7 Arrested in Sears Tower Plot
By KELLI KENNEDY, Associated Press Writer
MIAMI (AP) -- Seven people were arrested Thursday in connection with the early stages of a plot to attack Chicago's Sears Tower and other buildings in the U.S., including the FBI office here, a federal law enforcement official said.
As part of the raids related to the arrests, FBI agents swarmed a warehouse in Miami's Liberty City area, using a blowtorch to take off a metal door. A neighbor said the suspects had been sleeping in the warehouse while running what seemed to be a "military boot camp."
The official told The Associated Press the alleged plotters were mainly Americans with no apparent ties to al-Qaida or other foreign terrorist organizations. He spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt news conferences planned for Friday in Washington and Miami.
Miami U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said in a statement that the investigation was an ongoing operation and that more details would be released Friday.
"There is no imminent threat to Miami or any other area because of these operations," said Richard Kolko, spokesman for FBI headquarters in Washington. He declined further comment.
FBI Director Robert Mueller, questioned about the case during an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," said he couldn't offer many details because "it's an ongoing operation."
"We are conducting a number of arrests and searches" in Miami, Mueller said, which were expected to be wrapped up Friday morning.
Residents living near the warehouse said the men taken into custody described themselves as Muslims and had tried to recruit young people to join their group, which seemed militaristic.
The residents said FBI agents spent several hours in the neighborhood showing photos of the suspects and seeking information. They said the men had lived in the area about a year.
The men slept in the warehouse, said Tashawn Rose, 29. "They would come out late at night and exercise. It seemed like a military boot camp that they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard."
She talked to one of the men about a month ago: "They seemed brainwashed. They said they had given their lives to Allah."
Rose said the men tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class.
"It was weird," she said.
Gov. Jeb Bush was briefed on the situation Thursday, according to his spokeswoman, Alia Faraj.
"We have great confidence in the federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who are committed to keeping our country safe," Faraj said.
She added that there has been greater communication between state and federal agencies since the 2001 terror attacks.
The 110-floor Sears Tower is the nation's tallest building. Security was ramped up after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the 103rd-floor skydeck was closed for about a month and a half.
Several terrorism investigations have had south Florida links. Several of the Sept. 11 hijackers lived and trained in the area, including ringleader Mohamed Atta, and several plots by Cuban-Americans against Fidel Castro's government have been based in Miami.
Jose Padilla, a former resident once accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive bomb in the U.S., is charged in Miami with being part of a support cell for Islamic extremists. Padilla's trial is set for this fall.
Associated Press Writer Mark Sherman in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.