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Five "Homegrown Terrorists" Found Guilty in Florida

Update: Brothers Burson Augustin and Rotschild Augustin were sentenced to six and seven years, respectively, on November 18, 2009. The next day, Stanley Phanor and Patrick Abraham were sentenced to eight and nine years, respectively. On November 20, 2009, Narseal Batiste was sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison.

Posted: May 15, 2009

After two consecutive mistrials, five men have been convicted for plotting to attack the Sears Tower in Chicago, the FBI headquarters in Miami and other U.S. buildings.

A federal jury in Miami found five men guilty of multiple charges for trying to ally themselves with the terrorist group Al Qaeda to levy war against the United States and attack U.S. targets on May 12, 2009.  A sixth defendant was acquitted on all counts. 

Two previous trials, in December 2007 and April 2008, both ended in mistrials. 

Narseal Batiste, 35, the group's apparent leader, was found guilty on all counts and convicted of conspiring to provide material support to Al Qaeda, conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, conspiring to maliciously damage and destroy buildings by means of an explosive and conspiring to levy war against the U.S. government. 

Batiste, a U.S. citizen, started recruiting the others to "organize and train for a mission to wage war against the U.S. government" in November 2005, according to the Department of Justice.  In February 2006, Batiste told the informant that he wanted to attend Al Qaeda training with five others so they could "kill all the devils we can" in an attack that would "be just as good or greater than 9/11."  Batiste also equated himself with Jeff Forte, a former Chicago gang leader who planned a domestic terror plot with Libya in the 1980s in exchange for $2.5 million.

According to court documents, the men attempted to obtain funding and support for the plot from a government informant posing as a member of Al Qaeda.  In March 2006, the defendants pledged an oath of allegiance to the terrorist group.

The men took photographs and video of the FBI field office in Miami Beach as well as the federal courthouse complex, detention center and clerk's office in downtown Miami.  According to the Department of Justice, members of the group asked the informant to provide machine guns, boots, uniforms and vehicles in order to wage jihad.  Batiste later requested binoculars, bullet proof vests, firearms and $50,000 in cash.  However, the group never developed the capability to launch any of the terrorist attacks they planned, authorities said.

In addition to Batiste, four other defendants were convicted on terrorism charges.  Patrick Abraham, 29, a Haitian national, was convicted on three charges, including conspiring to support terrorism and Al Qaeda and conspiring to blow up buildings. Rothschild Augustin, 25, Burson Augustin, 24, and Stanley Grant Phanor, 33, all U.S. citizens, were each convicted on two counts for conspiring to support terrorists.  A sixth defendant, Naudimar Herrera, 25, was acquitted on all charges. 

A seventh defendant, Lyglenson Lemorin, 34, was acquitted on all counts in December 2007.  He is now in immigration custody facing deportation to his native Haitii because of his alleged participation in that plot, according to allegations in immigration documents.   

Members of the so-called Liberty City Six, who met at a warehouse in Miami's Liberty City neighborhood, reportedly told neighbors that they were starting a children's karate class in the building.

Six of the defendants were arrested in Miami, Florida in June 2006. Lemorin was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia on the same day.

Batiste faces a maximum of 70 years and Abraham faces up to 50 years in prison. Rothschild Augustin, Burson Augustin and Phanor each face a maximum of 30 years in prison.  

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Criminal Proceedings in 2009

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