Were NATO Summit Protesters ‘Bumbling Fools’ Or ‘Cold, Calculated’ Terrorists

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CHICAGO (AP) — Three men who came to Chicago to protest the 2012 NATO summit veered from civil disobedience into terrorism when they hatched a plan to throw Molotov cocktails at President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters, police stations and other sites, a prosecutor said Thursday, wrapping up the state’s case against them.

Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly sought to spread fear through violent acts and deserve to be convicted under Illinois’ rarely-used terrorism statute, prosecutor Tom Biety said during closing arguments.

“Were they bumbling fools or were they cold, calculating terrorists? … That is the question you have to answer,” he told jurors. He added that the evidence showed, “These men are terrorists.”

The men’s lawyers, though, say the authorities overreached by charging their clients under the terrorism statute — one of many rarely-invoked terrorism statutes that states passed after 9/11. They portrayed men as drunken goofs who were duped into the Molotov cocktail plot by an undercover officer who infiltrated their group.

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