So apparently videotaping public buildings is now a crime
A federal jury in Miami convicted five men of conspiring to blow up buildings even though they had no explosives, no blueprints and no radical literature tying them to terrorists organizations.
However, they did film two federal buildings in Miami, which proved to be the deciding factor that proved their guilt, according to The Miami Herald.
In the end, the case likely turned on Batiste and his followers taking oaths to al Qaeda and taking surveillance video of target sites, such as the FBI building in North Miami Beach and federal courthouse in downtown Miami.
Something tells me this case is ripe for appeal.
Today’s verdict marked the latest chapter in the Liberty City Six saga (formerly Liberty City Seven), which began in 2006 when seven Haitian-Americans from Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood were arrested in a widely publicized raid.
One man was acquitted in 2007. Another man was acquitted today. The case had so far resulted in two mistrials before today’s verdict and has cost taxpayers more than $10 million.
The initial arrest was touted as a victory in President Bush’s War on Terror with Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez claiming the men were prepared to “wage a full ground war” against the United States, which included blowing up the Chicago Sears Tower.
But as more information surfaced, it became evident that these men were “more aspirational than operational”, as one FBI official noted.
Furthermore, the case was dependent on a couple of shady FBI informants who posed as al Qaeda jihadi and enticed the Liberty City men to take al Qaeda oaths.
One of the informants, Abbas al-Saidi, is a Yemeni national who extorted $7,000 from a man who raped his girlfriend, which allowed him and the girlfriend to move to Miami. Once here, he beat her up and landed in jail for five weeks until the FBI secured his release.
The second informant, Elie Assad, is a Lebananese national who has also been arrested for domestic battery and has even failed an FBI polygraph test while working as an informant on a previous case.
The men received $120,000 in taxpayer’s money between them for building up a case against the Liberty City men.
While the Liberty City men apparently believed these two informants were al Qadea jihadi, they claimed they followed along with their plans because they were hoping to extort $50,000 from them.
So part of the ruse, they claim, was that they had to take al Qaeda oaths and film public buildings to prove their credibility to the informants.
In the end, not a single player involved in this case, including the U.S. Government, had an ounce of credibility.
I am a multimedia journalist who has been fighting a lengthy legal battle after having photographed Miami police against their wishes in Feb. 2007. Please help the fight by donating to my Legal Defense Fund in the top left sidebar, which helps pay for the thousands of dollars I’ve acrued in debt since my arrest. To keep updated on the latest articles, join my networks at Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed.