Beers or Bombs?: 3 Charged for Terrorist Bomb Plot in Chicago

Their faces have been plastered all over US media: Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla. They are being charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and material support of terrorism. These are charges that are generally, as Carol Rose noted, reserved for Muslims, it seems now, however, that this is being applied more broadly.

The hypocrisy and double standards still linger, the US government, including prominent politicians have engaged in the text-book definition of “material support of terrorism.”

Three former, top ranking US officials are supposedly being “investigated” by the US Treasury for “material support of terrorism,” though very quietly, and not with the media hype that we are encountering for instance with the arrest of these “anarchists.” Many other prominent officials have so far escaped investigation or scrutiny.

Prosecutors: Undercover work showed 3 men planned to hit police, mayor’s house, Obama HQ

(Chicago Tribune)

Police surrounded the three men — now known as the NATO 3 — outside a Bridgeport drugstore last week and peppered them with questions as officers searched their car.

The two sides traded barbs about the Occupy movement and the 1968 Democratic National Convention when Chicago police infamously subdued protesters with force. After making jokes about bashing skulls with billy clubs, the officers promised to find the trio during the upcoming NATO summit.

“We’ll come look for you, each and every one of you,” an officer can be heard saying on a video posted onYouTube.

Turns out it was more than just an idle threat. It was already a fact.

Newly filed court documents show the men had been under surveillance for more than a week, suspected of planning a multi-staged attack against high-profile targets including President Barack Obama‘s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel‘s house and several police stations. Chicago police had begun investigating the men as early as May 1, using information purportedly supplied by two informants whom the suspects believed were fellow Occupy backers named Moe and Nadia.

Prosecutors late Friday charged Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla., with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism and possession of an explosive or incendiary device. Six other people with them in a late-night raid Wednesday were released without charges, authorities said.

The charges mark the first time anyone has been prosecuted in Illinois under the state’s anti-terrorism laws, which were enacted after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Perhaps more problematic for police trying to control crowds amid the summit, the trio’s arrest has provided oft-splintered factions of the Occupy movement with a shared rallying point this weekend.

Several hundred protesters took to the streets downtown Saturday evening, marching from the city’s financial district to Daley Center Plaza, where they conducted a 10-minute sit-down in sympathy for the men, dubbed the NATO 3 by their supporters.

The men’s attorney, Michael Deutsch, accused authorities of entrapment and suggested police targeted the men because of their anti-establishment views. The edited YouTube video of last week’s police stop has also prompted complaints about unfair treatment, though Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said the patrol officers in the video were unaware of the ongoing undercover investigation.

“What we believe is that this is a way to stir up prejudice against people exercising their First Amendment rights,” Deutsch told a throng of reporters after the three suspects were ordered held on $1.5 million bail each.

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