Chicago (CNN) — Two suspects who appeared in court in Cook County, Illinois, on Sunday are not believed to be part of an alleged terror plot in Chicago during the NATO summit, prosecutors said Sunday.
Instead, charges against the two arose from “related investigations,” authorities said.
Three men had previously been charged in the NATO plot, with authorities saying they planned to target President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and several other law enforcement and financial sites.
On Sunday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said it had “approved charges against two additional individuals in connection with the ongoing NATO investigation.”
Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, of Chicago, is charged with falsely making a terrorist threat, prosecutors said in a statement. Mark Neiweem, 28, also believed to be from Chicago, is charged with attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices.
But prosecutors later clarified, “While the cases that were charged in court today arose from related investigations, the two defendants are not charged with any involvement in the terrorist case from yesterday, and today’s cases are separate matters. The two defendants (Senakiewicz and Neiweem) … each face their own charges arising from separate incidents.”
The two appeared in court Sunday. Bond was set at $750,000 for Senakiewicz and $500,000 for Neiweem, and both men are set to next appear in Cook County Circuit Court on Wednesday. It was not immediately known whether the two had attorneys.
Court documents allege Senakiewicz, a native of Poland, told associates he had made two homemade explosive devices that could “blow up half of an overpass for a train” and was planning to use them during the summit. He said last week that they were stored in a Chicago home in a hollowed-out “Harry Potter” book, the documents said.
He also claimed to possess a vehicle “filled with explosives and weapons,” according to the documents.
However, a search warrant found no explosives, and Senakiewicz told investigators that while he had made the statements, he did not actually possess a bomb, the court documents said.
Meanwhile, Neiweem allegedly told an associate that he wanted to obtain materials to make a pipe bomb, and that if the associate got the items, he would create it, according to court documents.
The three men charged in the NATO plot were identified as Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Betterly, 24, who told police he resides in Massachusetts, authorities said. An Illinois judge set bail at $1.5 million for each.
The three were charged with material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and possession of explosives or incendiary devices, authorities said. The three men were arrested Wednesday, and charges were announced Saturday, according to authorities.
A lawyer representing the three has called the accusations against them “propaganda” and said authorities “infiltrated” a peaceful group and set the men up.
A police probe that began early this month revealed the three suspects are “self-proclaimed anarchists” and members of the “Black Bloc” group who traveled together from Florida to Chicago to commit violence as a protest against the NATO summit, authorities said in a statement.
“Black Bloc” was the group blamed for violence that occurred in recent “Occupy” protests, such as in Rome last year when anarchists in ski masks torched cars and clashed with police and even other Occupy protesters.
Senakiewicz also claimed to be a member of the “Black Bloc,” court documents said, as well as “an anarchist who is upset with the lack of chaos in Chicago.”
The three men were planning to destroy police cars and attack four Chicago police district stations with destructive devices as a way to undermine police response to other planned actions at the NATO summit, according to a statement by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Downtown Chicago financial institutions were also among the proposed targets, authorities said.
“The individuals that we have charged in this investigation are not peaceful protesters. They are domestic terrorists who came to Chicago with an anarchist agenda to harm our police officers, intimidate our citizens and to attack their politically motivated targets,” said Alvarez.
According to authorities, Church said he wanted to recruit four groups of four co-conspirators — or 16 people — and that reconnaissance had already been done on the Chicago Police Department headquarters.
The three men also possessed or built improvised explosive or incendiary devices, a mortar gun, swords, a hunting bow, throwing stars, and knives with brass-knuckle handles, authorities said.
In court, prosecutors accused the three men of preparing for “violence and destruction,” such as stockpiling Molotov cocktails.
A couple dozen of their supporters in the courtroom could be heard faintly scoffing at prosecutor Matthew Thrun as he called the defendants “self-proclaimed anarchists … making preparations for violence and destruction.”
Thrun said one of the defendants could be heard planning an attack and quoted him as saying, “This city does not know what it is in for, and it will never be the same.”
According to Thrun, the defendants bought gasoline at a BP station, cut bandanas for fuses, and had four empty beer bottles to be used as Molotov cocktails.
Thrun told the court that Church made a remark while assembling the Molotov cocktails: “Ever seen a cop on fire?”
Defense attorney Michael Deutsch accused authorities of “police misconduct,” saying undercover agents infiltrated a “peaceful” group.
“They even bought the makings of Molotov cocktails and gave it to them,” Deutsch said in court.
Outside of court, he called the case a setup and an example of “entrapment to the highest degree.”
“It is sensationalism by the police and the state to discredit the protesters that have come here to nonviolently protest,” the attorney said.
The National Lawyers Guild, representing the three defendants, said Chicago police arrested a total of nine activists Wednesday at a house in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood and then released six of them.
The guild described the three defendants as “Occupy activists” and said police provided no evidence of criminal intent or wrongdoing.
“It’s outrageous for the city to apply terrorism charges when it’s the police who have been terrorizing activists and threatening their right to protest,” attorney Sarah Gelsomino with the lawyers guild and the People’s Law Office, said in a statement.
Judge Edward Harmening set the three defendants’ next court date for Tuesday.
NATO kicked off its two-day summit Sunday in Chicago.
The war in Afghanistan is expected to dominate discussions.
NATO leaders are currently on a timetable to withdraw all of the alliance’s combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
CNN’s Michael Martinez, Paul Vercammen, and Josh Levs contributed to this report.
By Al Arabiya with Agencies
The United States has foiled a plot by al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen to blow up an airliner and has recovered the explosive device, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Monday.
“The device was for use by a suicide bomber on an airliner,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was uncovered at an early stage and represented a “success story” for U.S. authorities working closely with allies, the official said.
“At no point were any airlines at risk,” the official added.
The bomb was similar in scale to one employed in a failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas Day in 2009 but there were “notable differences,” the official said.
“This suggests AQAP is adapting its methodology, its tactics et cetera.”
The plot also never posed any risk to the public, the White House later said.
President Barack Obama “was assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public,” National Security Council deputy spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement, adding that the president had directed agencies “to take whatever steps necessary to guard against this type of attack.”
“The disruption of this IED plot underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad,” Hayden added in a statement.
“The president thanks all intelligence and counterterrorism professionals involved for their outstanding work and for serving with the extraordinary skill and commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand.”
Wikipedia: The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district. →
Before his death, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had ordered his followers in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attack the aircraft of President Barack Obama, the Washington Post reported Friday.
The report, which cited documents seized at the Pakistan compound where bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces, said the al-Qaeda leader also sought to kill General David Petraeus, who then headed international forces in Afghanistan.
Bin Laden wanted to kill the U.S. president because “Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make (Vice President Joe) Biden take over the presidency,” according to a document purported to come from the compound.
“Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis. As for Petraeus, he is the man of the hour, and killing him would alter the war’s path in Afghanistan.”
The scheme was described in one of the documents taken from bin Laden’s compound by U.S. forces on May 2, 2011, the night he was killed, and made available to Washington Post opinion writer David Ignatius.
“They have been declassified and will be available soon to the public in their original Arabic texts and translations,” Ignatius wrote.
The documents said bin Laden hoped the attacks on Obama and Petraeus would be carried out Pakistani militant Ilyas Kashmiri, who is believed to have been killed in a U.S. drone attack last June.
The report said U.S. analysts see little possibility that the plots could have been carried out.
By Al Arabiya with Agencies
U.S. agents have foiled what has been called a “significant terrorist act” linked to Iran which called for the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. as well as the bombing of the Israeli and Saudi embassies in Washington.
A criminal complaint, unsealed in federal court in New York City, identified two alleged plotters, Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri.
Both were originally from Iran and Arbabsiar is a naturalized U.S. citizen, it said.
One of the Iranians in custody has confessed to the plot to kill the Saudi ambassador and provided information about involvement by factions of the Iranian government, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said as press conference.
The case, called Operation Red Coalition, began in May when an Iranian-American from Corpus Christi, Texas, approached a U.S. informant seeking the help of a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, according to counter-terrorism officials.
The Iranian-American thought he was dealing with a member of the feared Zetas Mexican drug organization, according to agents quoted by ABC News.
The report said bombings of the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina were also discussed.
By Associated Press,
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Tuesday accused elements of the Iranian government of being involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. would hold Iran accountable.
Two people, including a member of Iran’s special operations unit known as the Quds Force, were charged in New York federal court. Holder said the bomb plot was a flagrant violation of U.S. and international law.
“We will not let other countries use our soil as their battleground,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said at a press conference in Washington with Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Manssor Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old U.S. citizen who also holds an Iranian passport, was charged along with Gholam Shakuri, whom authorities said was a Quds Force member.
FBI Director Robert Mueller says many lives could have been lost in the plot to kill the ambassador with bombs in the U.S.
Holder said the U.S. government would be taking unspecified action against the Iranian government as early as Tuesday afternoon. Asked whether the plot was blessed by the top echelons of the Iranian government, Holder said the Justice Department was not making that accusation.
Terrorists may be planning attack on the Reichstag, home of German parliament in Berlin – Spiegel
Federal law enforcement authorities are investigating a nascent plot to carry out a series of terrorist bombings at stations in the Washington Metro system, according to intelligence and law enforcement sources. -Washington Post
Feds arrest N.Va. man in D.C. Metro bomb plot
By Peter Finn , Greg Miller and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 27, 2010; 3:54 PM
Federal law enforcement authorities have arrested a Northern Virginia man in connection with an alleged plot to carry out a series of terrorist bombings at stations in the Washington Metro system, according to a federal indictment.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, conspired with people he believed to be al-Qaeda operatives to attack the stations at Arlington National Cemetery, Pentagon City, Crystal City and Court House, the indictment said.
An administration official said Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Pakistan, first drew the attention of law enforcement officials by seeking to obtain unspecified materials. He later became the target of an undercover sting operation, officials said.
According to the indictment, in April Ahmed began to meet in hotels in Northern Virginia with people he believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization. He agreed to conduct video surveillance of the stations, suggested the best time to attack and the best place to place explosives to maximize casualties, the indictment alleges.
“Today’s case underscores the need for continued vigilance against terrorist threats and demonstrates how the government can neutralize such threats before they come to fruition,” said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security. “Farooque Ahmed is accused of plotting with individuals he believed were terrorists to bomb our transit system, but a coordinated law enforcement and intelligence effort was able to thwart his plans.”
The planned attack was not imminent, officials said, stressing that the public was never in any danger.
Ahmed was arrested early Wednesday and later appeared in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on terrorism charges.
Sporting a full beard and wearing a gray polo shirt and blue jeans, Ahmed shook his head and let out a deep sigh as the charges against him were read. “Yes, yes,” Ahmed said, as the judge told him the charges were serious.
Judge John F. Anderson ordered him held until a detention hearing Friday.
Ahmed, who holds a BS in computer science from City University of New York, worked in Northern Virginia at Ericsson, a telecommunications company, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was pursuing a graduate degree online in risk management and data security at Aspen University, according to LinkedIn.
A neighbor of Ahmed said that on Wednesday afternoon FBI agents with terrorism task force jackets were still combing through the brick townhouse in Ashburn where Ahmed lived.
Ahmed has a wife and young son, said the neighbor, Shaya Fitzgerald, 39, a physician assistant who lives across the street.
Ahmed’s wife “wore a full hijab, the whole thing. She seemed relatively young,” Fitzgerald said. “He had a full beard. . . . My only impression of him was that he was not that sociable.”
Ahmed’s wife is from Birmingham, England, and is an organizer of a group in Northern Virginia called “Hip Muslim Moms.”
According to the indictment, Ahmed planned to attend the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, next month and told the people he who believed were his co-conspirators that he would be ready to go overseas “to conduct jihad” in January.
Fitzgerald said she had few interactions with the Ahmed family, other than to exchange waves across the street. “You never think you’re going to hear yourself saying ‘They kept to themselves and were quiet neighbors,’ but they kept to themselves and were quiet neighbors.”
Fitzgerald said that other neighbors told her that as many as 20 FBI agents had entered the Ahmed house earlier Wednesday and were “all over the street” when she arrived home in the afternoon.
Despite the news of Ahmed’s arrest, Metro riders said they felt secure.
Edith Sowe, 35, of Silver Spring, said she feels “relatively safe,” especially when she sees Metro police on her train or at Union Station about once a week.
“At least it gives you the impression that they’re trying to be proactive and aren’t waiting for something bad to happen before they respond,” Sowe said, as she waited for a Red Line train at the Rockville station. “I think the main thing is people need to be alert and pay attention because Metro can only do so much.”
Unlike other U.S. citizens implicated in recent terrorism plots, Ahmed does not appear to have received overseas training from al-Qaeda or any of its affiliates, intelligence sources said. In previous investigations, however, it has taken time to establish overseas links.
The arrest is the latest in a series of cases involving U.S. citizens, including another Pakistani American, who was convicted of planning to set off a car bomb in Times Square, that have raised concerns about an increasing number of Americans drawn to violent jihad.
Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Connecticut resident, was sentenced to life in prison this month; the bomb he left in a car in Times Square in May failed to detonate.
In other instances, suspects were caught in sting operations.
Earlier this month, a Jordanian man was sentenced to 24 years in prison for attempting to use of a weapon of mass destruction to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. Hosam Smadi, 20, was arrested in September 2009 after leaving what he thought was a truck bomb but was instead a decoy device provided by FBI agents posing as al-Qaeda operatives.
Another man, Michael Finton, 29, awaits trial in March on similar charges, after driving an FBI-supplied van that he believed contained a ton of explosives to blow up the Paul Findley Federal Building and Courthouse in Springfield, Ill., also in September 2009.
At a recent Senate hearing, Michael Leiter, head of the National Counterterrorism Center, said the United States was experiencing a “spike in homegrown violent extremist activity,” some of it involving individuals who were radicalized over the Internet.
Since 2009, more than 6o U.S. citizens have been charged or convicted in terrorism cases, according to federal officials.
Staff writers Anne E. Kornblut, Jerry Markon, Ann Scott Tyson and Katherine Shaver and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
Times Square bomb plotter sentenced to life in prisonBy the CNN Wire StaffSTORY HIGHLIGHTS
- NEW: Faisal Shahzad remains defiant, saying “the defeat of the U.S. is imminent”
- He pleaded guilty in June to 10 counts stemming from the failed bombing
- Prosecutors said Shahzad planned to detonate a second bomb if the first had worked
New York (CNN) — A 30-year-old Pakistani-American was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday for attempting to detonate a vehicle bomb in Times Square this year.
Faisal Shahzad was defiant before a judge sentenced him Tuesday, saying “the defeat of the U.S. is imminent.”
Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to all 10 counts in an indictment against him. At the time, he told the court, “I want to plead guilty 100 times because unless the United States pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, until they stop drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen and stop attacking Muslim lands, we will attack the United States and be out to get them.”
Charges against Shahzad included attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy and attempt to commit international terrorism, among others, authorities have said.
Shahzad is accused of attempting to set off a vehicle bomb in Times Square on May 1, according to documents filed in federal court Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Shahzad carefully selected his location as a highly populated target and intended to strike again if he wasn’t caught the first time.
The bomb failed to detonate and he was arrested two days later while trying to leave the country on a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Pakistan.
In a sentencing memo submitted to a federal court Wednesday, prosecutors painted a picture of a young man determined to target Americans on a large scale.
According to the memo, Shahzad used webcams accessible on the internet “as part of his effort to maximize the deadly effect of his bomb.”
The memo says Shahzad found webcams online and studied the real-time video feeds of different areas in Times Square to determine when and where he could inflict the most damage.
Prosecutors said Shahzad “wanted to select the busiest time for pedestrian traffic in Times Square because pedestrians walking on the streets would be easier to kill and to injure than people driving in cars.”
Federal prosecutors also contended in the sentencing memo that Shahzad believed the bomb would kill about 40 people and that he “was prepared to conduct additional attacks until he was captured or killed.”
According to the document, at the time of his arrest, Shahzad waived his Miranda rights and stated that “if he had not been arrested he planned to detonate a second bomb in New York City two weeks later.”
At a June court appearance, Shahzad admitted to receiving five days of weapons training in Waziristan, in Pakistan.
Prosecutors said Shahzad spent 40 days beginning in December 2009 in the tribal region that straddles Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he lived with members of the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP.
According to the court documents, he worked with an experienced bomb trainer affiliated with the TTP for five days. In addition, Shahzad was given $5,000 to help fund the mission and agreed to appear in a TTP video glorifying the planned attack.
The roughly 40-minute video, according to its description in the memo, features Shahzad quoting from the Quran while the other side of the screen is filled with images of Times Square after the botched bombing.
Toward the end of the video, the memo quotes Shahzad as saying, “I have been trying to join my brothers in jihad every day since 9/11 happened. I am planning to wage an attack inside America.”