Five men were convicted Tuesday in Miami of plotting to join forces with al-Qaeda to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and bomb FBI offices in hopes of igniting an anti-government insurrection.
The jury acquitted another member of the so-called "Liberty City Six" in the sixth day of deliberations. Two previous trials ended in mistrials when jurors could not agree on the men's guilt or innocence.
They were arrested in June 2006 on charges of plotting terrorism with an undercover FBI informant they believed was from al-Qaeda.
Defence attorneys said terrorist talk recorded on dozens of FBI tapes was not serious, and the men wanted only money.
Ringleader Narseal Batiste, 35, was the only one convicted of all four terrorism-related conspiracy counts, including plotting to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to wage war against the U.S. Batiste, who was on the vast majority of hundreds of FBI audio and video tapes, faces as much as 70 years in prison.
Batiste's right-hand man, 29-year-old Patrick Abraham, was convicted on three counts and faces 50 years behind bars. Convicted on two counts and facing 30 years are 24-year-old Burson Augustin, 25-year-old Rotschild Augustine and 33-year-old Stanley Grant Phanor. Naudimar Herrera, 25, was cleared of all four charges.
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard set sentencing for July 26 for the five convicted men, most of whom are Haitian or have Haitian ancestry. They lived in Miami's downtrodden inner-city neighborhood known as Liberty City.
Batiste was leader of a Miami chapter of a sect known as the Moorish Science Temple, which combines elements of Christianity, Judaism and Islam and does not recognize the U.S. government's full authority.
Defence lawyers also claimed the case was an FBI setup driven by informants who manipulated the group.
"This is a manufactured crime," Batiste attorney Ana M. Jhones said earlier in the trial.
A seventh man who was acquitted after the first 2007 trial, 34-year-old Lyglenson Lemorin, is being deported to his native Haiti anyway. Less stringent immigration laws make it easier for U.S. officials to use the terrorism allegations against Lemorin.