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FBI arrests seven in terrorism plot

Plan to attack Sears Tower

UNITED STATES: U.S. anti-terrorism agents arrested seven people in the last two days suspected of planning attacks on federal offices in Miami and the landmark Sears Tower in Chicago, a law enforcement source said on Thursday.

The source, elaborating on a brief statement on the operation from Florida authorities, said the suspects had thought they were dealing with the international al Qaeda group but had been infiltrated by a U.S. government informant.

Media reports said no weapons or explosives were found, including in a raid at a warehouse in the poor Miami suburb of Liberty City, where heavily armed security agents were seen by residents on Thursday afternoon. They had left by the evening.

"In the past couple of days, the U.S. government has taken into custody seven people who were conspiring to conduct jihad (holy war) in the United States," the law enforcement source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"They thought they were dealing with al Qaeda," the source said, adding the suspects had been trying to buy weapons and other things needed to carry out attacks.

The source said the government had an informant with whom the suspected conspirators had discussed their plans. "There was no immediate threat because we were in on the discussions." the source said.

A parade through Miami to celebrate the Miami Heat's National Basketball Association championship and expected to attract about 200,000 people, was still due to go ahead on Friday.

CNN said it had been told by sources that six of the suspects had been arrested in Miami and a seventh in Atlanta.

The FBI declined to give details of the operation, saying it would provide more details on Friday morning in news conferences in Miami and Washington.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, confirming arrests had taken place but giving no details, said there was no threat to people in Miami.

"Earlier today, the FBI, in conjunction with federal, state and local authorities, executed arrests as part of an ongoing investigation into a terrorist-related matter," the statement said.

The United States has launched a number of terrorism prosecutions with great fanfare since the Sept. 11 attacks by al Qaeda on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon, although many cases later fizzled out. Washington, Friday, Reuters



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