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Prosecutor: Sears Tower plotter confesses

One of the men accused of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower admitted to swearing allegiance to al-Qaida, and told investigators they planned to bomb five FBI buildings, a prosecutor said Thursday.
Handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Justice shows seven people arrested in Miami
Seven men were arrested last week in Miami for allegedly planning to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicao with al-Qaida's help.Ho / Reuters
/ Source: The Associated Press

One of seven men accused of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower has admitted swearing allegiance to al-Qaida and told investigators he and the others planned to bomb five FBI buildings, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Lyglenson Lemorin, a Haitian national, also admitted to attending military training in Miami and other parts of Florida to carry out the mission, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Getchell said during Lemorin’s hearing before a U.S. magistrate.

Getchell also said that the alleged ringleader, Narseal Batiste, had told an FBI informant that his contacts from a delivery job he once held were going to help his group use tunnels under Chicago to stage an attack.

Lemorin is one of seven men suspected in the terror plot who were arrested last week on conspiracy charges at the group’s alleged hide-out in a Miami warehouse. He was ordered held without bond Thursday and transferred to Miami to stand trial.

Getchell said Batiste told the informant, who posed as an al-Qaida member, that with the terror group’s support he could get his plans going in less than a year.

The indictment against the men alleges Batiste planned an attack he said would be “as good or greater than 9/11,” although authorities say his group had no explosives and lacked adequate funding.

Allegedly admired bin Laden
At repeated meetings with the informant, Batiste said he admired Osama bin Laden, was honored and excited that al-Qaida would align itself with his group and said he had members in Chicago and Louisiana, Getchell said.

Authorities have said that although the seven defendants thought the informant was with al-Qaida, they never actually made contact with the terrorist network.

The prosecutor read from the pledge that he said Lemorin and the other defendants took. They pledged to represent Osama bin Laden, and were committed to be Islamic soldiers engaged in jihad and that they would keep to the path of holy war until God’s word was exalted.

According to Getchell, Batiste was planning to take down the Sears Tower with dynamite. Batiste allegedly said he had worked in Chicago for a delivery firm and could count on former employees there to help plan the attack through the tunnel system in Chicago, Getchell said.

According to the prosecution, between October and April, Batiste and others took video and photographs of several buildings in Miami which they offered to the informant as potential targets.

The prosecution had asked that Lemorin be denied bond, but Getchell said that even if it had been granted, Lemorin would have been taken into custody by immigration authorities. Although he’s a lawful permanent resident he can be deported based on his admitted alignment with a foreign terrorist organization.

Another defendant is an illegal immigrant from Haiti, but the other five are U.S. citizens.