Sears Tower Terrorists Sought Ties With al Qaeda (Video)

The seven men charged with plotting to blow up the Sears Tower were reportedly hoping to ally themselves with al Qaeda.

Seven young men arrested in an alleged plot against the Sears Tower were part of a group of “homegrown terrorists” who sought to work with al-Qaida but ended up conspiring with an informant, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Friday. Outlining an alleged plot to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and a federal building in Miami, Gonzales told a Justice Department news conference: “They were persons who for whatever reason came to view their home country as the enemy.”

The seven individuals – ranging in age from 22 to 32 – were indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami. Six were taken into custody in Miami Thursday when authorities swarmed a warehouse in the Liberty City area, removing a metal door with a blow torch. A seventh was arrested in Atlanta. The alleged terrorists – five U.S. citizens, a legal immigrant from Haiti and a Haitian national who was in this country illegally – were expected to appear in federal court in Miami later Friday. They had taken an oath to al-Qaida and sought help from someone they believed was a member of the terrorist organization, the indictment alleged.

Apparently, they weren’t quite al Qaeda material. According to CNN:

Seven men concocted a plot to “kill all the devils we can,” starting by blowing up Chicago’s Sears Tower, according to charges in a federal indictment revealed Friday. But the federal grand jury indictment also painted a picture of a group that had no weapons or other supplies for their alleged “jihad,” that was intended to be “as good or greater than 9/11.”


The family of Stanley Grant Phanor, who also is named in the indictment, said Friday that Phanor is innocent of all charges and is a practicing Roman Catholic — not a Muslim. “They all call themselves brothers and they are well-mannered,” his older sister, Marlene Phanor, said. “All they were trying to do was clean up the community. We are Catholic. He’s Catholic.”

Gina Lemorin, a sister of Lyglenson Lemorin, another of the seven indicted men, said her brother was involved with the group to study religion. She said her brother had been with the group in Miami doing construction work but once the group began practicing “witchcraft,” he left and moved to Atlanta, Georgia, about four months ago. Lemorin has children who live in Atlanta, she said, and he “is not a terrorist.”

At a Justice Department news conference Friday in Washington, Deputy FBI Director John Pistole described their plan as “more aspirational than operational.”

‘More aspirational than operational.” That’s gotta leave a mark. It’s also a rather interesting thing to say in the context of an indictment, where one typically tries to portray the accused in the most menacing fashion possible.

Two videos at the CNN link: Watch why the FBI director says he’s scared (2:24) and Watch how probe involved an undercover informant (2:53)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anderson says:

    Josh Marshall mocks them for including “uniforms” on their wish-list to al Qaeda (actually, to an FBI informer), but it seems that they could’ve meant disguises, like police uniforms.

    Anyway, nice to see these losers behind bars.