Last Updated: 6/23/06
Attack on Chicago thwarted

Seven people arrested during an FBI raid in the US city of Miami have been charged with conspiring to work with al-Qaeda and under its control.

They were taken from a warehouse in Miami's Liberty City area on suspicion of planning to attack Chicago's Sears Tower and other targets.

The suspects are believed to be Muslim, and include five US citizens and two foreigners, including a Haitian.

Reports say they were infiltrated by a US agent posing as an al-Qaeda member.

No weapons were found in the Miami warehouse, and the seven had not posed any immediate danger, the FBI said.

Officials told US media there was no direct connection between the suspects and al-Qaeda or any other international terror organisations.

"They have been described to us by sources as wannabes or sympathisers," Mani Garcia, city editor of the Miami Herald newspaper, told the BBC World Service.

A man claiming links to the arrested men later told the news channel CNN that they were a peaceful religious group, who studied Allah.

According to a federal indictment, the men were conspiring to "levy war against the United States".

They have been charged with conspiring to blow up both the Sears Tower, the tallest building in the United States, as well as the FBI building in North Miami Beach.

The indictment names Narseal Batiste, who allegedly asked an undercover agent he thought was from al-Qaeda for help to build an "Islamic Army to wage Jihad", the indictment said.

He is said to have told the agent he and his five "soldiers" wanted al-Qaeda training and planning for a "full ground war" against the US in order to "kill all the devils we can".

His mission would "be just as good or greater than 9/11", Batiste said, according to the indictment.

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been giving more details of the raids at a news conference.

Neighbours in Miami's poor Liberty City area said the men apparently slept in the warehouse where they were arrested.

"They would come out late at night and exercise. It seemed like a military boot camp they were working on there. They would come out and stand guard," said Tashawn Rose.

BBC News

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