Intelligence Report: Terrorism charges expected for accused NATO summit plotters

Terror conspiracy suspects left to right: Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly
June 11, 2012 4:21:49 PM PDT
It's been nearly a month since Chicago police raided a Bridgeport home and arrested several people on charges that they were plotting an attack on the NATO summit.

In this Intelligence Report: That case is going to be the first legal test of Illinois' state terrorism law.

Even though state government has preached preparedness, since 9/11, counterterrorism law enforcement and especially prosecution has been at the federal level. Tuesday that will change in Illinois. Three men arrested just before the NATO summit are expected to be indicted on terrorism charges by a Cook County grand jury.

The upfront security for foreign ministers and heads of state from around the world last month in Chicago was the domain of the Secret Service, especially since President Barack Obama attended the NATO summit.

But, in the weeks leading up to NATO, it was a special team of Chicago police counter-intelligence officers who had infiltrated protesters who were believed to be plotting a violent attack. Police raided a home in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood and arrested three men: Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly. Authorities said they were making Molotov cocktails and planned to hurl them at President Obama's campaign headquarters.

The city used operatives, who were also arrested during the raid, but have not been seen since. Prosecutors claim the three defendants are part of the infamous "black bloc," a group known to disrupt otherwise peaceful protests. That group caused the only man-on-man combat during the ultimately controlled summit.

Critics contend the Cook County state's attorney has made numerous allegations against the three defendants, but so far has not produced physical evidence of criminal activity, the search warrant or affidavit of probable cause.

State's Attorney Anita Alvarez will test the law for the first time in Illinois starting Tuesday when the three are indicted. Illinois is one of 36 states to adopt anti-terrorist laws since 9/11. The U.S. Department of Justice data shows 403 people were convicted in federal courts for terrorism from 2001 to 2010 across the country.

The National Lawyers Guild that represents the three men Monday called the charges "sensational" and alleged that county authorities have hidden evidence.

Church, Chase and Betterly are being held on a $1.5 million bond. They will be in court Tuesday at 26th and California.


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