26 April 2014, 15:33

Three men plotting attack on Obama's HQ at NATO Chicago summit get convicted

Three men plotting attack on Obama's HQ at NATO Chicago summit get convicted

Three men accused of planning to attack high-profile targets, during a 2012 NATO summit in Chicago got sentenced from five to eight years on Friday, prosecutors said, as delivered by Reuters. They allegedly hatched a plan to throw Molotov cocktails at President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, police stations and other sites.

Known as the "NATO 3," a Cook County jury acquitted the men in February on more serious terrorism-related charges, including conspiracy to commit terrorism under a state anti-terrorism law adopted after the September 11, 2001, deadly attacks.

Jared Chase, 29, was sentenced to eight years in prison, Brent Betterly, 26, to six years and Brian Jacob Church, 22, to five years by Judge Thaddeus Wilson in Cook County Circuit Court, prosecutors said.

All three were convicted of misdemeanor mob action and felony possession of an incendiary device with the intent to commit arson.

The convictions called for prison terms ranging from four to 30 years and prosecutors had asked Wilson to sentence them to 14 years each, according to a pre-sentencing memorandum. Whether the men's alleged actions amounted to terrorism was at the heart of the case:

"Were they bumbling fools or were they cold, calculating terrorists? ... That is the question you have to answer," he told jurors. He added that the evidence showed, "These men are terrorists," said prosecutor Tom Biety during the hearings, urging to charge the suspects under the terrorism statute — one of many rarely-invoked terrorism statutes that states passed after 9/11.

In the end the three were accused of hatching using homemade bombs made from beer bottles and gasoline, and other weapons, targeting police stations, President Barack Obama's re-election headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's house and other locations.

Their attorneys portrayed the defendants at trial as drunken braggarts who had talked big to impress undercover officers, who had infiltrated them.

They were arrested before the start of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting in May 2012.

The summit attracted thousands of protesters from around the country, who were met by a strong police presence. Chase is from New Hampshire and Betterly and Church both are from Florida.

Chicago police, along with the FBI and the Secret Service, raided the Chicago apartment the three men used as a safe house and recovered pipe bomb instructions, an improvised mortar made from PVC piping, a crossbow, knives, throwing stars, a map of Chicago and four fire bombs, according to prosecutors.

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