National Security

Judge declares second mistrial in Miami al Qaida case

After 12 difficult days of deliberations, a federal jury on Wednesday deadlocked on whether a Miami group plotted with al Qaida to overthrow the United States.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard declared a mistrial in the case, a major setback in the government's legal assault on what it claims was a domestic terrorism ring.

The judge set a status conference for April 23 for federal prosecutors to decide whether to try the six defendants for a third time on charges that they provided ''material support'' to al Qaida for plans to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and federal government buildings. In December, another jury deadlocked on the four charges against the six defendants and acquitted a seventh after nine days of deliberations.

The defense in the case argues that the six men only went along with the terrorism plot to con thousands of dollars out of an FBI informant. The jury foreman from the first trial predicted a second trial would also end in a deadlocked jury because no guns, ammunition, explosives or terrorist blueprints were found on the suspects when the Justice Department trumpeted their arrests in June 2006.

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