Miami terror suspects go back before judge

Published July 1, 2006

MIAMI - A man accused of leading a group authorities say was plotting to blow up the Sears Tower likened Osama bin Laden to "an angel," a prosecutor said Friday in arguing for the men to be detained until their trial.

The six co-defendants were arrested last week in an undercover FBI sting and never had explosives or contact with al-Qaida, the terrorist network they wanted to join, officials said.

The men appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ted Bandstra, who will decide whether to keep them jailed or set bail and allow them to be released until trial.

Narseal Batiste, 32, who is accused of leading the group, was recorded as he spoke to an FBI informant who was posing as an al-Qaida operative, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Arango said.

During one of several video clips from surveillance footage that the prosecution played, Batiste told the informant that he wanted to start "a real ground war." Arango also said Baptiste likened bin Laden to "an angel" at another meeting.

Several relatives of the men have denied that they were violent. They described the defendants as deeply religious people who studied the Bible and took classes in Islam.

A seventh man, Lyglenson Lemorin, 31, was charged in the case in Atlanta.

He was being held without bail and was scheduled to be moved to Miami.

The men face conspiracy counts that carry maximum prison terms of 15 to 20 years if convicted.

The men also are accused of seeking to support what they thought was an al-Qaida operative's effort to bomb FBI buildings in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington. The informant had the men swear their allegiance to the terrorist organization as part of the undercover operation.

Prosecutors said Batiste began recruiting and training the others in November. He met several times in December with the informant and asked for boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles and $50,000 to help him build an "Islamic Army," the indictment said.

Prosecutors said the group had its headquarters in a small warehouse in Miami that authorities raided last week.