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Prosecutor in Miami terror trial says war with US government was behind Sears Tower plot
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    MIAMI — War with the U.S. government was at the heart of a terrorist plot to destroy Chicago’s Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices, a prosecutor said Wednesday during closing arguments in the retrial for six Miami men accused of conspiring with al-Qaida.
    Alleged ringleader Narseal Batiste and the others in the ‘‘Liberty City Seven’’ conspired with an FBI informant who pretended he was from al-Qaida with the hope of starting an anti-government war, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Gregorie said.
    ‘‘It’s really not a complicated case,’’ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Gregorie. ‘‘These are terrorists inside the United States. They are going to try to take over the United States.’’
    Defense attorneys were expected to present their closing arguments later Wednesday in the second trial in the case. The first trial ended in December with a hung jury for six of the defendants and the acquittal of a seventh.
    Batiste testified that he was never serious and only went along with the terrorism talk in hopes of conning the informant out of $50,000. His lawyers also claim he was entrapped by two FBI informants who orchestrated the entire plot.
    But Gregorie said Batiste and the others would have pursued a terrorism attack no matter what, noting that they were captured on FBI videotapes taking an oath to al-Qaida in March 2006.
    ‘‘All you have to say is no — walk away, don’t do it,’’ Gregorie told jurors.
    There is no evidence the men ever acquired any explosives, building blueprints or other items needed to pull off an attack on the 110-story Sears Tower. They did take surveillance pictures and video of the Miami FBI office and other buildings, which prosecutors said was key evidence of intent and support for al-Qaida.
    Batiste, 34, ran a struggling construction business and also led an organization in Miami’s impoverished Liberty City neighborhood called the Moorish Science Temple. Based at a building dubbed the ‘‘Embassy,’’ the group does not recognize the U.S. government’s authority and blended elements of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
    On some of the FBI tapes, Batiste is heard claiming he has divine power and describing the U.S. government as ‘‘the devil’’ that must be eradicated starting with a plot ‘‘as great or greater’’ than the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
    ‘‘We’re going to kill all the devils we can,’’ Batiste says on one FBI intercept.
    Gregorie scoffed at Batiste’s insistence that that it was all a scam to get money for his business and to do charitable good works in the community.
    ‘‘This isn’t about love, about helping the community. This is about power,’’ he said.
    Each of the men faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted. The group was arrested in June 2006 and has been in custody ever since, enduring a pair of two-month trials before U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard.
    The suspect who was acquitted, Lyglenson Lemorin, remains in immigration custody pending possible deportation to Haiti on the same terrorism allegations.

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