Miami arrests update: “Arrests in Sears Tower terror plot,” from the Chicago Sun Times:
At least seven people were arrested Thursday after federal agents launched a raid in Miami on a group that allegedly plotted to attack the Sears Tower and government buildings in south Florida — and at least one reputed cell member had visited Chicago for intelligence gathering, law enforcement sources said.
“They were trying to collect information about the Sears Tower,” one source said. The Chicago Police Department was involved in the investigation through the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the source said.
The alleged terrorist cell discussed destroying government facilities in Miami, including an FBI building, and picked the Sears Tower, the nation’s tallest building, as a “high-profile target,” the source said….
A federal law enforcement official told the Associated Press the alleged plotters were mainly Americans with no apparent ties to al-Qaida or other terrorist organizations. More details were to be released today….
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.
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,” she said….
Rose said she talked to one of the men about a month ago: ”They seemed brainwashed. They said they had given their lives to Allah.”…
While the federal law enforcement official said there were no obvious links to al-Qaida, MSNBC and CNN were reporting those being held were “radical black Muslims,” and that one suspect had pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden.
However, an AP story suggests that they are not orthodox Muslims, unless this is just an attempt at deception:
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. Rose said they tried to recruit her younger brother and nephew for a karate class.
She said she talked to one of the men about a month ago. “They seemed brainwashed,” she said. “They said they had given their lives to Allah.”
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 for about a year.
Benjamin Williams, 17, said the group sometimes had young children with them. At times, he added, the men “would cover their faces. Sometimes they would wear things on their heads, like turbans.”
A man who called himself Brother Corey and claimed to be a member of the group told CNN late Thursday that the individuals worship at the building and call themselves the “Seas of David.”
He dismissed any suggestion that the men were contemplating violence. “We are peaceful,” he said. He added that the group studies the Bible and has “soldiers” in Chicago but is not a terrorist organization.