Court documents cited secret recordings of Twin Cities protesters about aiding Palestinian and Colombian groups.
An undercover agent secretly taped Minnesota antiwar protesters talking about supporting foreign terrorists and raising money for a Palestinian organization designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist group, according to documents released Wednesday in federal court.
The FBI raided the homes of five local protesters in Minneapolis and two in Chicago in 2010 over alleged material support for terrorism. A grand jury was convened in Chicago, but the rationale for the raids, contained in search warrants, was never made public.
Bruce Nestor, a Minneapolis attorney for two local activists, Jessica Sundin and Mick Kelly, whose homes were raided, had asked the documents be unsealed. The Star Tribune had filed a motion supporting the efforts to release the warrants.
Nestor said Wednesday: “The government has investigated my clients for almost six years now, seized and studied their computers and telephones and personal documents and no criminal charges have been field.
“My clients deny engaging in criminal activity, but proudly admit their opposition to U.S. polices of violence and war.”
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minneapolis declined to comment on the case.
The warrants show the FBI targeted members of the Anti-War committee of Minneapolis as well as the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), which has members in several states including Minnesota.
The warrant quoted members saying that several thousand dollars had been raised to go to a women’s group connected to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) but that the money would get to “the right people.”
Nestor said the women’s group functions openly, gets funds from many groups and hasn’t been shut down by the Israeli government.
The warrant cites a recording of an unidentified person, saying that $4,000 had been raised for a delegation going to meet the Palestinians, of which $2,000 was a donation. The person said the money was being funneled through the Anti-War Committee, and “we are sending money to a terrorist organization, basically.”
The warrant also alleged the group was offering material support to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
It claimed Sundin met with FARC members in Colombia and appeared in a video with them in 2000.
The undercover agent claims “Sundin stated that she did not think that a revolution [in the United States] would happen in the next 10 years, but if it did, FRSO would be ready.”
The agent said Kelly told her he had put together a map of areas in Minneapolis that they would need to seize as part of an armed revolution in Minnesota, but quoted him saying, “we are not there yet.”
Joseph Daly, a retired law professor at Hamline University, said that it was likely federal authorities do not have probable cause to make an arrest. He said it is not a crime under the First Amendment to talk about a future American revolution.
Daly said it would be tough to prove that the money got to terrorists.
“There is a lot of talk about indirectly giving, but not direct money,” he said.
Randy Furst • 612-673-7916