Plot Against the United States (02:48)
Narseal Batiste is released from prison. In 2005, he and six others were arrested for planning what would have been the largest terror attack on America since 9/11. The charges were largely fabricated by the FBI. (Credits)
Domestic Al-Qaeda (05:29)
After 9/11, the FBI focused on preventing the next terrorist attack. In October 2005, the domestic Al-Qaeda squad in Miami met with an informant about a militant group with interest in overthrowing the government. Batiste was identified as the leader.
Narseal Batiste (08:20)
Batiste grew up in a Baptist family in Miami but started creating his own religious beliefs. He gained followers and opened a Moorish Americans temple, which practices elements of all religions. They were soldiers for god and did paramilitary drills.
Abbas al-Saidi (05:27)
Al-Saidi had been an informant for the FBI in New York but relocated to Miami. He worked at a convenience store and sold marijuana to Batiste and others. The group learned that al-Saidi worked with law enforcement and often fabricated stories.
Surveillance of Batiste (04:39)
The FBI began surveilling Batiste and his group after al-Saidi told them an Al-Qaeda story. Batiste spoke with al-Saidi frequently because he offered to help him with his immigration status. Multiple people in Batiste's group worked in construction, so they started their own company.
Al-Saidi's Offer (07:54)
The construction company struggled and al-Saidi told Batiste he had an uncle who could help him financially. Al-Saidi told the FBI the uncle was the Al-Qaeda member Batiste asked to meet. Batiste agreed to meet the uncle and do an undefined mission solely for money.
Elie Assaad (07:40)
The FBI doubted Batiste's dedication to an Al-Qaeda mission but decided to go forward. Assad, an informant, was selected to be the Al-Qaeda contact that would meet Batiste. The two met in a hotel room in Miami and Batiste made up a list of demands when pushed by Assad.
Batiste's Commitment (04:52)
The FBI was unsure how to continue since they still doubted Batiste. Batiste felt out of his depth, but al-Saidi, who was being paid by the FBI, kept pushing him. Batiste said he would blow up the Sears Tower so he could get the money he was promised.
Batiste's Reasoning (07:07)
The rest of Batiste's group felt he was going too far to get the money. Batiste blamed his heavy marijuana usage for disrupting his judgement and making him make outlandish claims.
Oath to Al-Qaeda (04:01)
Batiste and his group's activities were part of FBI Director Robert Mueller's daily presidential briefs. There needed to be an overt act for federal prosecutors to bring charges. The CIA and FBI decided Batiste would need to make an oath of loyalty.
FBI Warehouse (05:00)
The FBI had a plan to make the rest of Batiste's group make the oath to Al-Qaeda after he did. They had Assad offer Batiste a warehouse, wired with surveillance, as a new temple. Assad arranged a gathering.
Group Oath (04:38)
The FBI instructed Assad to have each member take the oath individually. Most of the group did not believe Assad was legitimate and only went along for the money.
Bombing Plot (07:04)
After the oath was taken, Assad was instructed to ask for the group's help with a plot to bomb five FBI offices. They were to film the office in Miami so it could be sent to Al-Qaeda. Some group members felt betrayed by Batiste and that he crossed a line.
Groups' Arrest (08:17)
Officials arrested Batiste and the six others at a construction site. The FBI held a press conference saying the group wanted to wage a ground war and blow up the Sears Tower. Reporters questioned the claims because the group did not seem serious or well organized.
Terrorism Case (04:09)
Some believed the FBI needed a big arrest to justify the continued use of the Patriot Act. The group was terrified they would go to Guantanamo Bay or spend the rest of their lives in prison. The group refused to flip or take pleads for charges they knew were inflated.
Liberty City Seven (07:53)
Legal and terrorism experts found the group’s unwillingness to plead interesting and wanted to learn about the FBI’s case. The group argued they did not have the manner, means, or commitment to carry out what they had been charged with.
First Trial Decision (03:12)
A hung jury occurred for six of the members. Levi-El Lemorin was found not guilty but deported to Haiti because of his "association with terrorists."
Second and Third Trials (02:55)
Since the group had been charged with terrorism, the government felt pressure to retry their case. Another mistrial occurred and the case was tried a third time. Five of the six members were convicted, and one was acquitted.
Liberty City Seven Sentences (09:51)
Batiste received a sentence of 13 and a half years in prison. Legal experts realized the FBI had gone too far in their sting operation. The FBI's use of sting operations for terrorism arrests has increased since 2009.
Credits: In the Shadow of 9/11 (00:60)
Credits: In the Shadow of 9/11
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