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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 October 2007, 02:48 GMT 03:48 UK
Sears Tower 'plot' trial begins
Chicago skyline with Sears Tower (left)
The Sears Tower is the tallest building in the US
Seven men accused of plotting to blow up the tallest building in the US, Chicago's Sears Tower, have gone on trial in Miami, Florida.

The men intended to ignite a guerrilla war that would bring down the US government, federal prosecutors said.

Defence lawyers said FBI informants had devised the plot and the defendants had played along to con money from them.

The seven men, who have been in custody since their arrest in June 2006, have all pleaded not guilty.

"These defendants came together for one sole purpose, to wage a holy war against the United States," said prosecutor Richard Gregorie in his opening statement.

He said they wanted to bomb a number of landmark buildings and put poison in restaurant salt shakers.

There would be no survivors from the alleged Sears Tower bomb, Mr Gregorie said, because the defendants planned to shoot anyone who escaped.

'Con game'

But lawyers for the defendants said the purported plot was the inspiration of two paid FBI informants, one of whom posed as an al-Qaeda operative.

Narseal Batiste (l) and Stanley Grant Phanor, two of those charged
Lawyers for the accused said the case against them was overblown
The defendants hoped to con the two men of $50,000 (24,500) they had allegedly offered the group, their attorneys said.

"All he wanted to do was get his money and run and who better to con than somebody who was supposedly al-Qaeda," said Ana Jhones, attorney for Narseal Batiste, the alleged ringleader of the seven men.

Government officials described them after their arrest as "home-grown terrorists" but said they posed no real threat because they had no actual al-Qaeda contacts, no weapons and no means of carrying out the attacks.

The six have pleaded not guilty to charges they tried to help al-Qaeda wage war against the US government.

If found guilty, each man faces up to 70 years in prison.

The trial is expected to last until the end of the year.

SEE ALSO
Families deny US terror plot link
24 Jun 06 |  Americas
Seven charged over 'Chicago plot'
23 Jun 06 |  Americas
Four indicted for JFK 'bomb plot'
30 Jun 07 |  Americas
Bush sets up domestic spy service
30 Jun 05 |  Americas
Bush pledge over US intelligence
31 Mar 05 |  Americas

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