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Attacks on Chicago police stations, Obama office were planned, prosecutors say

NBC's Chuck Todd reports on the foiled plot to disrupt the NATO summit by attacking targets in Chicago with Molotov cocktails, including President Obama's campaign headquarters.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET CHICAGO -- Three anti-NATO protesters charged with terrorism conspiracy planned to attack four Chicago police stations, the local campaign headquarters for President Barack Obama and the home of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, prosecutors alleged in court Saturday.

A fourth man also was charged Saturday, police said, but it was not clear if that case was linked to the other three.

While friends of the first three men insisted they were just operating a home brewery, prosecutors stated that police found a gun that fires mortar rounds, swords, a hunting bow, ninja-like throwing stars and knives with brass knuckle handles.

The beer-brewing operation, prosecutors added, was used to fill bottles with gasoline that would later be thrown as Molotov cocktails.

"Plans were made to destroy police cars and attack four CPD stations with destructive devices, in an effort to undermine the police response" to attacks on the Obama office, the Emanuel home as well as unspecified financial institutions during the NATO summit this weekend, the charging statement said.


The men were identified as 22-year-old Brian Church, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; 27-year-old Jared Chase, of Keene, N.H.; and 24-year-old Brent Betterly, who told police he resides in Massachusetts. 

The three are "self-proclaimed anarchists, and members of the 'Black Bloc' group," prosecutors said, without elaborating.

Michael Deutsch, an attorney for the men, denied that and said the men and their friends were in Chicago to "peaceably protest."

The three were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and providing material support for terrorism. Bond of $1.5 million was set for each defendant. 

Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, was arrested at an Odell Avenue residence Thursday by a Chicago police intelligence team. He was charged Saturday with one count of weapons conspiracy. Police said he was conspiring with two or more others to make explosives including molotov cocktails to be used during the NATO summit. It was not immediately clear if he was conspiring with the first three.

Defense attorneys for Church, Chase and Betterly told a judge on Saturday that undercover police were the ones who brought the Molotov cocktails, and that their clients were entrapped.  

Deutsch later told reporters outside the courtroom that, though he was just getting into the case and didn't know all the evidence, he believed it was a setup. At least two informants "ingratiated themselves" with the three men, brought the materials and made the alleged plans, he insisted, calling it "an entrapment to the highest degree."

But Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy told reporters "the evidence speaks for itself" about what he called an "imminent threat."

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the investigation began weeks ago and local authorities had the help of the FBI and the Secret Service.

"The individuals that we have charged in this investigation are not peaceful protesters, they are domestic terrorists ... these men were here to hurt people," Alvarez said. "They were making the bombs ... (and had) directions on how to implement this."

Read the full charging document

The charging document states that "while the Molotov Cocktails were being poured, Church discussed the NATO Summit, the protests, and how the Molotov Cocktails would be used ... At one point, Church asked if others had ever seen a 'cop on fire' and discussed throwing one of the Molotov Cocktails into" a police station.

"Church stated that he also wanted to buy several assault rifles, and indicated that if a police officer was going to point a gun at him, then Church would be 'pointing one back'," the document states.

Six others initially arrested were released Friday. They were all detained in a raid Wednesday on a home in Bridgeport on Chicago's South Side, NBCChicago.com reported.

Overall, 14 people have been arrested in the lead up to the summit, McCarthy said. When asked if more arrests were expected in this case, he said he was "not positive," though he noted the investigation was ongoing. 

But the group of protesters said what police thought was suspicious was actually a home beer-brewing operation.

"We were handcuffed to a bench and our legs were shackled together. We were not told what was happening," one of those detained but later released, Darrin Ammussek, told NBCChicago.com. "I believe very strongly in non-violence, and if I had seen anything that even resembled any plans or anything like that, we wouldn’t have been there."

Scenes from Chicago protests surrounding NATO summit

He claimed 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, The Associated Press reported. 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 Ammussek 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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Among the pre-NATO protests was a march on the home of Mayor Emanuel by about 500 people on Saturday. The big show will be on Sunday, the start of the two-day NATO summit, when thousands of protesters are expected to march 2½ miles from a band shell on Lake Michigan to the McCormick Place convention center, where delegates will be meeting. 

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