More Details On Alleged Terror Plot, Two More Suspects In Custody

By Samantha Abernethy in News on May 20, 2012 7:00PM

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Brent Betterly, Brian Church and Jared Chase were charged Saturday in an alleged NATO summit terror plot. CPD photos.

The three protesters accused of conspiring to commit terrorism appeared in court yesterday, and prosecutors say the three had created Molotov cocktails and planned attacks on President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and police stations.

Two other protesters have been arrested on unrelated explosives charges. Sebastian Senakiewicz and Mark Neiweem face charges separate from the other three. Senakiewicz, 24, has been charged with falsely making a terrorist threat, conspiracy and unlawful use of a weapon found during the search of the apartment. "Senakiewicz made statements during the course of the ongoing NATO investigation that he was in possession of explosives," a law enforcement source told ABC7 but added that no explosives were ever recovered.

Neiweem, 28, has been charged with attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices. He is known as "Migs" to his fellow members of the Anarchist Black Cross. "Neiweem made statements during the course of the NATO investigation indicating that he knew how to make a pipe bomb and requesting the materials to make a pipe bomb. No pipe bomb ever made he is being charged based on the statements that he made," said a law enforcement source familiar with the case.

"The NATO 3" — Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, NH; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla.; — appeared in court Saturday on the conspiracy charges against them. The arrests were the result of a weeks-long police investigation, authorities said, hinting that they had audio recordings of the defendants making threats. From the court documents:

During the investigation, topics of conversation by the conspirators included committing acts of violence in other jurisdictions, planning escape routes, discussing and conducting late-night training sessions for engaging in combat with the police, and avoiding detection by law enforcement's use of electronic surveillance, FBI informants, and forensic evidence. In one conversation, a defendant state that "the city doesn't know what it's in for" and that "after NATO, the city will never be the same" as before.

Court documents portray Church as the ringleader, who wanted to recruit 16 people to conduct raids, split into groups of four. The Tribune writes:

According to court documents, the men planned to first attack four Chicago police stations and destroy several squad cars with "destructive devices" in order to divert the department’s attention and resources.

While authorities were distracted by those strikes, the group intended to hit Obama’s national campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building, Emanuel’s home in Ravenswood and other downtown financial institutions, prosecutors said. The group had already done reconnaissance work on the Chicago Police Department headquarters in Bronzeville in preparation for the attack, law-enforcement officials said.

The defendants were among those arrested Wednesday in a raid of a Bridgeport apartment by police that defense attorneys say was illegal. They were also in a car that was stopped by Chicago police last week. Video of that incident alleges police tried to intimidate and harass the men.

Court documents also refer to the three as being “members of the ‘Black Bloc’ group.” There is no such thing as a group, but rather "black bloc" is a tactic of wearing black clothes, bandanas and masks to conceal protesters' identities from the police.

The State v. The NATO 3