Defendants in the Miami “homegrown terror” case likely will charge that FBI informant posing as an “al Qaeda representative” entrapped them, the Miami Herald reports. The Liberty City, Fl., case resembles other recent terrorism cases from Hollywood to New York to California: An informant infiltrates a group of anti-American zealots and records — or even encourages — their violent plans. The seven Miami men have been charged with conspiring to support al Qaeda.
The defendants had no guns or other weapons when they were arrested last week. The informant provided some boots and a camera for the suspects to photograph a North Miami Beach FBI office and other local targets, the indictment says. It’s unclear from the indictment whether the alleged conspirators actually visited their most ambitious target, the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago. ”I don’t think anyone seriously believes that these were real terrorists. We used to have agents and confidential informants creating drug deals in Liberty City. Now it looks like they are creating homegrown cells,” said David Markus, president of the Miami chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Federal officials said they moved swiftly to make sure the plan became no more than that. Last month, a New York City jury rejected an entrapment defense in a prosecution based on a plan to bomb a subway — a case built with the help of a paid informant. In tape-recorded conversations between the Miami informant and defendants, if it appears the informant is driving the plot more than the defendants, it could give weight to an entrapment defense, said defense attorney Philip Horowitz.