One of the informants whose tips led to the arrest of the Miami jihadis has emerged, and his character and background is appropriately bizarre. The man, 51-year-old Sultan Khanbey, was ringleader Narseal Batiste's "mentor and teacher." From the Miami Herald:
Khanbey, who was born Charles Stewart, entered the picture in early April, two weeks after most of the seven defendants had sworn a loyalty oath -- or bayat -- to al Qaeda while the hidden cameras were rolling inside the Liberty City warehouse.
In a conversation with the FBI informant on April 1, Batiste described Khanbey as his "main man," identifying him as "the Sultan."
Wiretaps inside the warehouse captured Khanbey and Batiste discussing their plans to build a "Moorish nation of 10,000 people" and equip them with what they referred to as Moorish national security cards. They talked about recruiting, training and equipping their soldiers in green and black uniforms.
According to court papers, Khanbey said "...they were 'vanguards' and 'angels' here to rid the Earth of filth; that they were a nation and would do what nations do; and that as long as they stood on Islam they were impregnable."
But within days, relations soured in the ranks. Getchell said Thursday that Khanbey openly worried that law enforcement had infiltrated the group. On April 19, the rift between Khanbey and Batiste escalated into gunplay.
This is what got the police involved. Khanbey flipped on his protege when later charged as a felon in possession of a firearm. He had been convicted of rape in 1977 and faces 20 years in prison on the gun charge. According to Khanbey's wife, Queen Zakiyaah, Khanbey and Batiste met five years ago:
She said the couple traveled to South Florida in April to help teach Moorish Science principles. Moorish Science was founded in the early 20th Century by the Prophet Noble Drew Ali. The religion blends Christianity, Judaism and Islam and stresses discipline through martial arts.
The Sun-Times offers some more revelations from Queen Zakiyaah.
On Thursday, a woman who identified herself Khanbey's [wife] called the Chicago Sun-Times to say her husband had mentored Batiste in the teachings of the Moorish Science Temple about five years ago in Chicago. But Batiste fell under the dark influence of a man who wears a black robe and carries a staff, said the woman, who called herself Queen Zakiyaah Khanbey. The same man had filed the gun complaint against her husband, she said.
Batiste wanted to destroy the Sears Tower because he had knowledge of the building: he had been a FedEx driver in Chicago prior to obtaining his current position as racial messiah. His plan was to deliver a large amount of explosives to tunnels underneath the building, and destroy the tower from underground. But his knowledge of the building was somewhat flawed, according to a statement from a Sears Tower spokesman:
Mark Spencer, spokesman for the Sears Tower, said he was puzzled why Batiste would allegedly plan to attack the building through a tunnel system. There is a century-old coal delivery tunnel near the Sears Tower, a city official said. But no tunnels are connected to the building, Spencer said.
Every vehicle that enters the loading dock is screened for explosive residue and the manifest is checked, Spencer said. Barriers prevent any vehicle from entering the dock, he said. The loading dock is adjacent to the building, not underneath the building, he added.
As I've said, low hanging fruit. Congratulations to the authorities for arresting them and thank you to the police and FBI for protecting us, but these aren't the jihadis that should most concern us.