The Liberty City Seven join some dozen other terrorism defendants whose cases have resulted in acquittals and mistrials since Sept. 11.
A Federal judge in Miami declared a mistrial Thursday after a jury failed to reach a verdict in the trial of six men accused in 2006 of plotting to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and several other government buildings. A seventh suspect was acquitted in what analysts describe as a setback for the US government's domestic counterterrorism program. Jury selection for a retrial of the other six suspects will start next month.
The case against the so-called Liberty City Seven, named after the neighborhood in Miami where they met, was a preemptive prosecution, as they posed no immediate security threat at the time of arrest. A government official described the alleged terrorists as "more aspirational than operational." Defense lawyers argued in court that paid FBI informants who infiltrated the homegrown group were strung along for money for an Al Qaeda terror plot that never existed.
Prosecutors said the suspects were recorded on tape boasting that they wanted to join Al Qaeda on "a mission that would be as good or greater than 9/11," the Guardian reported.
Based on thousands of hours of audio and video recordings, including one that showed some of the men taking an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida, the government case argued that the group planned to sow chaos by poisoning salt cellars in restaurants and blowing up buildings, and wanted to obtain equipment including machine guns, a rocket launcher, military uniforms and bullet-proof vests.
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