NH Man Held On Terror Conspiracy Charges Ahead Of NATO Summit
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BOSTON (CBS/AP) — One of three men being held on explosives and terrorism conspiracy charges in Chicago is from Keene, New Hampshire, police confirmed on Saturday. The men were arrested earlier this week when police raided a Chicago apartment were being held on terrorism conspiracy charges Saturday stemming from allegations that they tried to make Molotov cocktails ahead of the NATO summit.
The men had been planning to attack President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, along with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home and other targets, including police stations and squad cars, prosecutors said Saturday.
Brian Church, 20, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Jared Chase, 24, of Keene, N.H.; and Brent Vincent Betterly, 24, of Oakland Park, Fla., were all being held on $1.5 million bond on charges of providing material support for terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession of explosives.
On their Facebook pages, Chase and Betterly identify themselves as part of the Occupy movement.
Chase grew up in Keene, N.H., and moved to Boston a few years ago before becoming active in the Occupy movement, said his aunt, Barbara Chase of Westmoreland, N.H.
She said she was stunned to learn of the charges against her nephew.
“That surprised me because he’s not that dumb, at least I wouldn’t have thought so anyway,” said Barbara Chase, a factory worker. “He always seemed harmless, but who knows? Outside influences sometimes can sway people to do things that they normally wouldn’t do.”
Jared Chase’s father, Steve Chase, died about five weeks ago after a long struggle with a disease that left him disabled, Barbara Chase said. The family had been waiting for him to come home before having a funeral.
According to CBS Chicago, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez referred to Chase, Betterly, and Church as “domestic terrorists.”
“The people charged today are self-proclaimed anarchists,” she said. “Their intent was to commit terrorist acts of violence and destruction during the NATO Conference.”
CBS Chicago reported the protesters claimed that items seized in the raid were nothing more than home brewing equipment.
A tenant who agreed to host the out-of-town protesters says the police did seize his home-brew making equipment, including buckets, beer bottles and caps.
“If anybody would like some, I would like to offer them a sip of my beer,” said William Vassilakis.
Police also seized gas masks and assault vests. Church allegedly said he wanted to buy assault rifles.
The men’s attorney, Sarah Gelsomino, told The Associated Press the men are “absolutely in shock and have no idea where these charges are coming from.”
But defense attorneys later seemed to acknowledge the existence of the Molotov cocktails, telling a judge on Saturday that undercover police are the ones who brought them, and that their clients had been entrapped.
Defense attorneys also alleged that the arrests were an effort to scare the thousands of people expected to protest at the meeting of world leaders.
“This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear,” defense 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 defense attorneys said they later lost track of the two.
“We believe this is all a setup and entrapment to the highest degree,” Duetsch said.
Six others also arrested Wednesday in the raid of the South Side apartment where they were staying were released Friday without charges being filed.
One of those protesters, Occupy activist Darrin Annussek of Philadelphia, denied there were Molotov cocktails in the apartment or that raw materials had been compiled to make them.
“No way,” Annussek said. “If I had seen anything that even resembled (a Molotov cocktail), I would have left.”
He claims that during 18 hours in custody, police never told him why he was arrested, read him his rights or allowed him to make a phone call. He said he remained handcuffed to a bench, even after asking to use a restroom.
“There were guards walking by making statements into the door along the lines of ‘hippie,’ ‘communist,” ‘pinko,’” a tired-looking Annussek told reporters just after his release.
Security has been high throughout the city in preparation for the summit, where delegations from about 60 countries, including 50 heads of state, will discuss the war in Afghanistan and European missile defense.
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