Friday, June 23, 2006

Media 'sceptical' over 'terrorists' arrested in honey trap

Sixteen hours after the BBC broke the news [0:15 GMT] about an ongoing terror raid in the Miami area a press conference finally filled in the blanks after a day of speculation and guesswork. CNN briefly mentioned it prior to Larry King Live, whose guest was the FBI chief Robert Mueller. He refused to be drawn on detail about the ‘ongoing operation’.
Seven members of a black Muslim group were arrested in a sting that has, according to US officials, thwarted an attack “as equal or greater than 9/11”. Speaking at a press conference midday Friday [16:00 GMT] the a spokesman described how members of the South Florida Terrorism Task Force had infiltrated the group posing ‘members of al-Qaeda’. Alexander Acosta, US Attourney of Miami, Florida, said the men had talked of launching attacks on the Sears Towers in Chicago, America’s tallest building, and the FBI Building in Miami. An FBI official, Jonothan Soloman, spoke of some group members expressing the view of wanting to “kill all the Devils we can”. However there were no explosives, nor, apparently the means by which the group of men might carry out the attacks, the spokesman conceded to journalists’ questions. However, he insisted there was enough evidence to show they had the “intent to carry out such action”. Officials also spoke of a “new kind of terrorism” which America faced. There was an air of scepticism from some broadcasters. Even before the press conference Sky News had questioned the strength of the evidence or the danger the group posed. Sky correspondent Keith Graves described the group as “amateurish” and said, “I think what happened is that these guys started talking, as I guess what angry young Muslims tend to do, about what they see as the iniquity of America’s operation in Iraq, and the FBI have picked up on telephone conversations…and so an FBI agent has been planted and he’s persuaded them he was a member of al-Qaeda…so effectively they walked into a trap…” . The arrested men were part of a 50 strong group, the Seas of David, who according to some reports often paraded after dark, in military fatigues and practiced martial arts. CNN broke away from the press conference, Johnathon Mann describing the journalists’ questions as “sceptical”. And as further details emerged the comment was “curious”. Curious also that the Federal authorities should name the target so distinctly and yet say that at “no time was it at risk nor is it currently at risk from attack”. But the raids have heightened the concerns of those who work in the towers which look over the city of Chicago at a height of 442 metres. The seven men charged on an indictment obtained by CNN are Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudemar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyglenson Lemorin and Rotschild Augustine. Speaking after a brief hearing at a Miami court, Mylene Phanor, sister of Stanley Grant Phanor, said her brother was innocent and had nothing to with terrorism. “Whatever he [Batiste] did the other men are nothing to do with it” she said to reporters. Narseal Batiste is said to be the ringleader of the group.[New York Times /Miami HeraldPosted by Picasa

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