Instructions and questions seemingly misplaced in a Minneapolis apartment raise questions, activists say.
Documents left behind by the FBI in antiwar activist Mick Kelly's apartment are shedding light on why heavily armed special agents raided the homes and businesses of Kelly and 22 others last September.
They believed that Kelly -- at 5-feet, 10 inches and 145 pounds -- was "DANGEROUS," according to an operation order Kelly's partner found. Kelly legally owns a handgun and a rifle.
But what the misplaced paperwork really shows, several activists said on Wednesday, is that they have been targeted based on their political beliefs, their travels and the people they have met rather than any alleged support for terrorism.
"It reads like something out of the 1950s," Kelly said, pointing to questions left behind for agents to ask -- including whether Kelly belongs to a socialist group or knows others who do. He does -- and that's not illegal, he said.
FBI special agent Steve Warfield, a spokesman for the Minneapolis division, said the documents found by Kelly and his partner, Linden Gawboy, appear authentic.
The case became public in September when the FBI raided homes and businesses in Minneapolis, Chicago and Michigan looking for evidence that people were providing "material support" to terrorist groups in Colombia and the Middle East.
In all, 23 people have received subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. Officials with the U.S. attorney's office there have not given details about who they are investigating or what people are alleged to have done. No one has been charged in the case, and the activists have refused to testify.
Gawboy found the documents in a file cabinet in the apartment she and Kelly share on April 30.
'Material support' defined
Attorney Bruce Nestor, who has advised many of those who have been searched and subpoenaed, said the government's expanded definition of what is considered "material support" has allowed agents to go beyond investigating those who give money or weapons -- which the Minnesota activists deny -- to investigating those who meet with people who belong to "suspect" groups.
The affidavits that justified the September searches have not been made public, he said, but "I suspect they will refer to people hosting speakers ... and they will try to put that in an evil light."
Activists say the raids and subpoenas are the FBI's efforts to stifle their rights to free speech and free assembly. For instance, many of the suggested questions found in the paperwork dealt with who the activists know and with whom they have met.
According to the documents left behind, "the captioned case was initially predicated on the activities of Meredith Aby and Jessica Rae Sundin in support of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a U.S. State Department designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO), to include their previous travel to FARC-controlled territory."
On Wednesday, Sundin said she went to Colombia 11 years ago to observe peace talks and meet with people whose lives were being affected.
"It obviously wasn't illegal in Colombia to travel there, and I wrote about it when I got back," she said. "It wasn't a secret trip. ... [The document] says they are looking into our travel. I don't understand why that should be a basis for investigation of criminal activity. It shouldn't be, in fact."
Kelly said he has been ordered to bring information to the Chicago grand jury about any trips to Colombia, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria or Israel. Kelly said it appears the FBI believes he may have been providing weapons training to other activists.
Said Kelly: "It's a fantasy and it's ridiculous and it's wrong."
Warfield would not comment specifically about the tactics used by the FBI SWAT team to search Kelly's apartment -- the case still is under investigation. In general, he said on Wednesday, "we're going to use an abundance of caution" if a search subject is believed to have weapons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. James Walsh • 612-673-7428