Friday, November 20, 2009

Two more of Liberty City Seven get lighter sentences

"A day after two men described as soldiers in a terrorism plot to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices were sentenced to less than a decade behind bars -- far less than federal prosecutors sought -- two more men received similar sentences Thursday in Miami federal court. U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard, in sentencing hearings Wednesday and Thursday, said the four were followers who participated far less than ringleader Narseal Batiste in discussions about possible terrorist attacks. The conversations were recorded by the FBI using an informant posing as an al Qaeda operative. The plot never got past discussion, which led defense attorneys and terrorism experts to describe the case as overblown since the "Liberty City Seven'' were arrested in June 2006. Lenard appeared to share that sentiment, at least for the four who have been sentenced so far. "As I see this case, these young men were looking for something. I don't know, maybe it was their naiveté and youth that made them fall under the influence of a man with a need to control, and they became his followers,"' Lenard said. Prosecutors sought between 30 and 50 years in prison for each of the four men, with Batiste facing a maximum of 70 years when he is sentenced Friday. They were convicted in May in the third trial of the case following a pair of mistrials, and two of the original suspects were acquitted. Lenard sentenced Batiste's self-described "No. 1 soldier,"' Patrick Abraham, 30, to just over nine years Thursday. Stanley Phanor, 34, got eight years. On Wednesday, Lenard sentenced Burson Augustin, 24, to six years in prison and his brother Rotschild Augustine, 26, to seven years."

Plotting to work with al Qaeda to blow up the Sears Tower is described by the sentencing judge as "young men . . . looking for something", youthful "naiveté", and falling under a bad "influence"? With time off for good behavior and credit for time served, these sentences are slaps on the wrist.

Is it any wonder we're in danger from domestic terrorism?

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