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Few Clear Wins in U.S. Anti-Terror Cases
Batiste confided, somewhat fantastically, that he wanted to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, which would then fall into a nearby prison, freeing Muslim prisoners who would become the core of his Moorish army. With them, he would establish his own country.
The FBI informant, under bureau guidance, refocused Batiste on what he said was bin Laden's plot -- to bomb FBI offices in several U.S. cities. Batiste's group was enlisted by the FBI informant to aid in the attack. The informant then wrote out what he termed an al-Qaeda oath, and got Batiste to lead his men in taking it -- an act that the government argued was key evidence of their guilt.
After one of the seven left Miami to get away from the group, an internal dispute developed and it fell apart. They were then arrested, charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and placed in prison, where they remain.
Jurors in the case, which ended in a mistrial last week, have not spoken about it publicly. But panel members who deliberated in the first trial told reporters they were skeptical that the defendants were as dangerous as prosecutors asserted.
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Formerly the largest Muslim charity in the United States, the Holy Land Foundation was "funding the works of evil" and encouraging suicide bombings on behalf of Hamas, according to a press conference statement in 2004 by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft.
Earlier that morning, authorities had arrested a group of men with ties to the foundation for supporting Hamas, violating laws that bar financial transactions that threaten national security, and money laundering, among 42 counts that could have sent the men to prison for decades.
But the prosecution ended in a mistrial last October, when Dallas jurors could not reach agreement on charges involving two defendants and mostly cleared another of criminal wrongdoing. Jurors have offered contrasting accounts of the problems they faced, but at least one cast doubt on the quality of the evidence. Prosecutors are scheduled to retry the case later this year.
A less-publicized case involves Javed Iqbal, a Brooklyn businessman who provided overseas cable access to clients and data to others, including U.S. government agencies. In August 2006, Iqbal was arrested for conspiring to supply financial support to a terrorist agency. His alleged crime was selling access to Al-Manar, the news and information cable channel run by Hezbollah out of Lebanon.
According to court filings, the case started when a confidential informant told the FBI in February 2006 that Iqbal was selling access to Al-Manar. At the time, it was not illegal, but the next month the Treasury Department added Al-Manar to the list on the grounds that funds it obtained went to Hezbollah, which the United States considers a terrorist group.
In June, the FBI's confidential informant went back to Iqbal's company and again offered to buy the overseas cable service that included Al-Manar. Iqbal told the informant that Al-Manar was temporarily unavailable, but would return. Iqbal also allegedly said he knew the channel was now on the terrorist list, but he expected that to change.
After being arrested for conspiring to violate the law, Iqbal was released on $250,000 bail. In November 2006, he was indicted again, along with a partner, this time on multiple charges of conspiracy to provide support to Hezbollah.