Miami To hear prosecutors tell it, Narseal Batiste and six followers formed a budding homegrown terrorist cell determined to rival the Sept. 11 attacks by toppling the Sears Tower in Chicago.
In the same court building where Jose Padilla was convicted last month, trial begins this week for seven men who federal prosecutors say envisioned a "full ground war" that would eventually replace the U.S. government with an Islamic regime.
"I want to fight some jihad," Batiste said in a 2006 conversation taped by the FBI. "That's all I live for."
Defense lawyers of the so-called "Liberty City Seven" say the men never sought to hurt anyone and amassed only one gun and a few knives and machetes. They say the alleged terror conspiracy was driven by a pair of paid FBI informants - one claiming to be an al-Qaida emissary.
Batiste, the leader of an obscure religious sect, and the others from Miami's blighted Liberty City neighborhood each face decades in prison if convicted.