The debacle of the ‘Seas of David’ terrorist plot
(The CarpetBagger Report) There have been a series of alleged terrorist plots that the White House has claimed to have disrupted. Sometimes Bush and his team tout these thwarted plots to defend torture, and sometimes it’s to defend illegally tapping Americans’ phones, but the bottom line is always the same — there are dangerous bad guys out there, and the president is stopping them.
As it turns out, most, if not all, of the examples of thwarted plots touted by the Bush gang fall apart under scrutiny, but my all-time favorite has to be the “Seas of David” cult (aka, the “Miami 7″).
When these would-be terrorists were captured, the administration characterized it as an enormous victory. Shortly after the suspects were taken into custody, Dick Cheney personally bragged that the Miami group was “a very real threat.” Then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was so excited he held a press conference to highlight this stunning counter-terrorism success story.
The AG said the group represented a “new brand of terrorism” created by “the convergence of globalization and technology.” The Justice Department said the terrorists in Miami intended to even blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago.
Except the story was wildly exaggerated. These alleged terrorists had no weapons, no bombs, no expertise, and no money. They didn’t behave or operate as terrorists. They apparently swore an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden, but because an undercover FBI infiltrator suggested the idea. For that matter, these guys weren’t even Muslims, but instead practiced their own hybrid religion that combined Islam and Christianity.
Their “plots” against the United States were “embryonic at best.” The New York Daily News described the group, which was more a cult than a terrorist network, as the “7 Boobs.” They’d have trouble attacking a convenience store, better yet the Sears Tower.
Yesterday, a jury found the administration’s case unpersuasive, at best.
One of seven indigent men charged with plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago as part of an Islamic jihad was acquitted on Thursday, and a mistrial was declared in the prosecution of the six others after the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked.
The outcome was a significant defeat for the Bush administration, which had described the case as a major crackdown on homegrown terrorists.
Officials had acknowledged that the defendants, known as the Liberty City Seven for the depressed section of Miami where they frequently gathered in a rundown warehouse, had never acquired weapons or equipment and had posed no immediate threat. But, the officials said, the case underscored a need for pre-emptive terrorism prosecutions.
Maybe in some cases, but probably not in this one. The FBI accused these seven people of wanting to destroy the Sears Tower in large part because one of the seven had once visited the building.
Indeed, Paul Kiel reminded me of the group’s ringleader.
The clique, adherents of a sect “that mixes Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Freemasonry, Gnosticism and Taoism,” met in a windowless warehouse they called the “Temple.” The leader of the group, Narseal Batiste, was described as a “‘Moses-like figure’ who would roam the streets in a cape or bathrobe, toting a crooked wooden cane and looking for young men to join his group.” And when the group met in their Temple, the men “took turns standing guard outside the door, dressed up in makeshift military uniforms and combat boots.” … The group trained by shooting paintball guns in the woods.
Something to remember the next time Cheney describes something as “a very real threat.”
As for the mistrial, the administration reportedly will re-file charges next year against six of the seven. Stay tuned.
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