THREE MEN ACCUSED of making Molotov cocktails had been planning to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and other targets during this weekend’s NATO summit, US prosecutors said today.
The three were arrested on Wednesday in a night raid of an apartment in Chicago’s South Side Bridgeport neighbourhood ahead of the two-day meeting.
Defence attorneys alleged that the arrests were an effort to scare the thousands of people expected to protest at the meeting of world leaders. They told a judge that undercover police were the ones who brought the Molotov cocktails.
“This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear,” defence attorney Michael Duetsch said.
Later, outside the courtroom, Duetsch said two undercover police officers or informants who called themselves “Mo” and “Gloves” were also arrested during the Wednesday raid, and defence attorneys said they later lost track of the two.
“We believe this is all a set-up and entrapment to the highest degree,” Duetsch said.
The trio was charged with providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession of explosives.
The suspects were each being held on $1.5 million bond. They apparently came to Chicago late last month to take part in May Day protests. Six others arrested on Wednesday in the raid were released on Friday without being charged.
Chicago police Lt Kenneth Stoppa declined to elaborate on the case beyond confirming the charges against the three who were still in custody.
Police identified the suspects as Brian Church, 20, of Ft Lauderdale, Florida.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, New Hampshire; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24. A police spokesman gave Betterly’s hometown as Oakland Park, Massachusetts, but no such town exists. There is an Oakland Park, Florida, that is near Fort Lauderdale.
Security has been high throughout the city in preparation for the summit, where delegations from about 60 countries will discuss the war in Afghanistan and European missile defence.
Elsewhere, Chicago was mostly quiet. Downtown streets were largely empty, though that is not unusual for a weekend.
Among the pre-NATO protests planned for today was a march on the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. As of midday, no protesters had arrived, but about two dozen police officers were waiting, including a group on bicycles that formed something of a fence outside the house.
The bigger show will be tomorrow, the start of the two-day NATO summit, when thousands of protesters are expected to march 4km from a band shell on Lake Michigan to the McCormick Place convention centre, where delegates will be meeting.