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Informant: Suspect Wanted al-Qaida Help

Thursday, October 04, 2007

By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer

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MIAMI — 

The leader of a group accused of planning terrorist attacks asked an FBI informant to secure aid from al-Qaida for a plot to overthrow the U.S. government, the informant testified Thursday.

Narseal Batiste believed the informant, Abbas al Saidi, was a member of al-Qaida and asked him to seek the terrorist group's support when he visited his native Yemen, al Saidi said.

Batiste, 33, once handed al Saidi a flyer that included the defendant's cell phone number, the informant said. Al Saidi testified that Batiste gave it to him so he could provide his contact information to al-Qaida operatives.

"He asked me to give that to al-Qaida and asked me to ask for support for their missions," al Saidi said. "He wants an Islamic organization willing to support jihad against the U.S. government and that paper contains his information."

The seven defendants from Miami's impoverished Liberty City neighborhood are accused of plotting to destroy the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago and bomb FBI offices in five cities to ignite a war.

Prosecutors concede that the alleged plot to replace the government with an extremist Islamic one never got past the planning stage, and the defendants didn't have the weaponry to carry it out.

Government lawyers showed jurors numerous seized weapons _ including nunchaku, machetes and swords _ that al Saidi testified appeared to be the ones another defendant, 22-year-old Burson Augustin, demonstrated for him.

Defense attorneys were expected to try to whittle away Friday at the credibility of al Saidi, 23.

Al Saidi was a paid informant for the FBI on the case, and had served as a paid informant for law enforcement agencies previously. Another paid FBI informant took the stand earlier in the week and defense attorneys insisted their clients went along with him in hopes of scamming him out of about $50,000 and never intended to carry out any attacks.

Al Saidi came to know the defendants through a convenience store for which he worked. He denied being a part of al-Qaida.

Charged alongside Batiste and Augustin are Rothschild Augustin Stanley Grant Phanor, Patrick Abraham, Naudimar Herrera and Lyglenson Lemorin. Each faces up to 70 years in prison if convicted of all four charges, which include conspiracy to levy war against the United States and providing material support to al-Qaida.

The trial is expected to last through December.

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