U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says seven Miami men have been indicted for allegedly trying to conspire with al-Qaida to launch large-scale terror attacks in the United States.
Gonzales said in Washington on Friday that the men wanted to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and government buildings in and around Miami.
But he said they never got beyond the initial planning of the attacks. He also said they never had contact with al-Qaida, but rather with someone posing as a representative of the terror network.
Gonzales said the men wanted to carry out attacks equal to or greater than the scale of the attacks of September 11th, 2001 for a "full ground war" against the United States.
He described the men as "homegrown terrorists." He said five are Americans, one a permanent U.S. resident and one an illegal Haitian immigrant.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters at an event in Cleveland, Ohio that the leader of the group is a U.S. citizen. The arrests of the suspects were announced Thursday.
But a man who said he knows the men told CNN television that the suspects are not terrorists, but part of group called the "Seas of David."
He said the group has what he called "soldiers" in Chicago. He described the group as devoted to self-improvement through discipline and study of the Bible.
Several al-Qaida terrorists who carried out the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks had lived and trained in the South Florida area.