Two more men charged as NATO protests get underway

CHICAGO Sun May 20, 2012 5:18pm EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Two more men have been arrested in Chicago for threatening behavior before a NATO summit, bringing to five the number of people charged with terrorism-related activities or possessing explosive devices in the days leading up to the meeting of the military alliance.

Chicago resident Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, was accused of falsely making a terrorist threat, and Mark Neiweem, 28, also of Chicago, was charged with attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices.

At a hearing on Sunday, Senakiewicz's bail was set at $750,000 and Neiweem's at $500,000.

Senakiewicz's arrest came a day after prosecutors said three men were caught in the act of making Molotov cocktails, which they had discussed using against President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago, as well as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home, several area financial institutions and four police stations.

Molotov cocktails are a crude bomb made of a bottle filled with a flammable liquid such as gasoline and usually fitted with a wick that is ignited and thrown.

Charging documents for Senakiewicz and Neiweem released on Sunday make no mention of a connection to the earlier arrests, but attorneys speaking on behalf of the two said they believe the same police informants are involved in all of the cases.

Earlier, when asked if the two Chicago men charged were related to the earlier arrests, authorities had said they learned about them during the probe of the three others.

Prosecutor Jack Blakey said the new cases are unrelated to earlier charges against the three men from out of state. "The cases are totally separate," Blakey said.

According to the court papers, Senakiewicz, who lives in Chicago but was born in Poland, bragged of having two homemade explosives that could "blow up half of an overpass for a train" and that he intended to use them during the NATO conference.

He claimed the explosives were hidden in hollowed-out volumes of Harry Potter books at his home, court papers said. Based on his threats, police arrested him at his apartment, but found no explosives.

PIPE BOMB

Neiweem, who is on probation for assaulting a police officer, is accused of attempting to buy the ingredients to make a pipe bomb, according to the court records. His charging documents make no reference to the NATO summit or other possible targets or motives.

The three men charged previously were listed as Brian Church, 22, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jared Chase, 27, of Keene, New Hampshire, and Brent Betterly, 24, from Massachusetts. Each is being held on $1.5 million bail.

The Chicago Police Department said those men, described as self-proclaimed anarchists and members of the "Black Bloc" movement that has disrupted international gatherings in the past, were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism, providing material support for terrorism, and possession of an explosive incendiary device.

A lawyer for the three, Michael Deutsch, said undercover police officers had entrapped them by infiltrating the group and encouraging the bomb-making effort. Their supporters say the men had come to protest the NATO summit peacefully and that the police had confused beer-making equipment with explosives.

Lawyers for Senakiewicz and Neiweem said the cases are linked to the earlier arrests only by common police informants.

"We believe the two informants have been working to create crimes in the city of Chicago," said Sarah Gelsomino, an attorney for the National Lawyers Guild said. "We do believe they were working for the police."

Not long after news of the latest arrests emerged, thousands of demonstrators began a march on Sunday through Chicago as Obama opened the two-day annual NATO summit. So far, earlier protests have been relatively peaceful, with few arrests.

Thousands of security personnel have been deployed to monitor them.

(Additional reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Greg McCune and Jackie Frank)

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