They say now that they only pledged loyalty to Al-Qaeda to get money. From Associated Press:
Statements given to the FBI by seven Miami men accused of plotting to destroy Chicago’s Sears Tower and other buildings show that some didn’t believe the talk of joining up with al Qaeda and others from the Liberty City neighborhood were motivated by money rather than Islamic radicalism.
Some were clearly bewildered by what had happened to them. One of those arrested in June 2006 even asked the FBI agents interrogating him whether he could have some of the marijuana he had been carrying, according to the statements filed recently in federal court.
That defendant, 23-year-old Naudimar Herrera, asked for ”a rub of my green” after the agents showed him a videotape of the group swearing loyalty to al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, at the direction of an FBI informant the men knew as Mohammed.
”Herrera said that he needed the substance to calm his nerves. . . . Herrera was provided with a bottle of water to drink and was allowed to take a restroom break,” an FBI summary said.
The same files said the men allegedly honed their battle skills with paintball drills in the woods outside of Miami.
The FBI statements by six group members are key pieces of evidence in a case scheduled to go to trial this fall. The group, known as the ”Liberty City Seven,” has been in custody since their arrests over a year ago on charges of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to wage war against the United States.
Prosecutors say they discussed blowing up the Sears Tower and destroying FBI offices and other buildings in Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Washington. Authorities have said their purported plot never moved beyond the preliminary stages and the group never possessed explosives or other weapons to carry it out, but insist the men were serious about their intentions….
In the statements, some of the group members appear to play down their roles or minimize what they knew about the purported bombing plots. The alleged ringleader, 33-year-old Narseal Batiste, told the FBI that he only played along with joining al Qaeda so he could extort as much as $50,000 from Mohammed.
”Batiste stated that during his relationship with Mohammed that he agreed to blow up buildings, but that was not his intention,” the summary said.
Much of the evidence consists of FBI audio and video surveillance, including the al Qaeda allegiance or bayat ceremony staged by Mohammed on March 10, 2006, at a warehouse the group used as a headquarters.
”I thought it was a joke, and I didn’t take it serious,” Rotschild Augustine, 23, said in a written statement to the FBI. “I felt as though we were all manipulated and [forced] to do things that didn’t feel right. . . . I’m just mad I even ended up meeting with these people and getting me and the rest of us into this situation and being fooled.”
Another defendant, 32-year-old Lyglenson Lemorin, told FBI agents he grew ”fearful” after the ceremony and that he ‘knew nothing good would come from this. Lemorin has seen al Qaeda on TV and advised that `they do killing’ and that he does not want to be associated with that,” according to an FBI summary.
Well, at least that much is true. Nothing good would or could have come from it.