The FBI conducted multiple raids Friday, targeting the homes and offices of anti-war activists in Minneapolis and Chicago.
The raids, characterized by one lawyer as "patently political" focused on people who organized anti-Iraq war protests, as well as protests that took place two years ago in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention, reported the New York Times. A total of eight warrants were executed. FBI spokesman Steve Warfield said "They were seeking evidence related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. They are looking at activities connected to the material support of terrorism.”World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) reported that no-one was arrested in the raids, but the people being investigated were issued with subpoenas to appear before the Grand Jury in Chicago in October. WSWS also said there were unconfirmed reports of raids conducted on activists in Michigan and North Carolina.
Pioneer Press said five activists in Minneapolis were targeted, with suspicion that the anti-war activists have ties to terrorist organizations in Columbia and the Middle East. Warfield is quoted as saying "There is no imminent threat to the community, and we're not planning any arrests at this time."
Those served with search warrants in Minneapolis are believed to be Mick Kelly, Jess Sundin, Anh Pham, Sarah Martin, Tracy Molm and Steff Yorek. In Chicago, Hatem Abudayyeh, Thomas Burke, Stephanie Weiner and Joseph Losbaker.
The early morning raids were conducted with the help of SWAT teams, reported Pioneer Press. A lawyer for Minneapolis-based Mick Kelly said the search warrant focused on his client's travels to the Middle East and Columbia, as well as his "ability to pay for his own travel within the United States or to Palestine or Colombia from the year 2000 until today. And this has to do with any contact with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and Hezbollah, all of which are FTOs (Foreign Terrorist Organizations)."
Activists raided in Chicago told the Chicago Tribune the warrants were similar to those executed in Minneapolis. The activists deny any wrongdoing, and lawyer for one of the Chicago activists told the Associated Press her clients were "... committed to social justice. That is not a crime in this country."
One Minneapolis activist who was targeted in the searches was Jess Sundin. She told the Associated Press she thought her activism against the US funding given to Columbia and Israel, combined with her group's activism against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the reasons she had been centered out, saying "It's kind of outrageous that citizens of the United States could be targeted like this."
Kelly claimed the FBI was (sic) "... harrassing anti-war organizers and leaders, folks who opposed U.S. intervention in the Middle East and Latin America."
The Huffington Post reported Warfield said he couldn't provide specific information about the search warrants because the case was "ongoing."
Two of those raided, Sundin and Kelly, are said to be associated with the Chicago-based Freedom Road Socialist Organization. They also organized a peaceful mass rally that took place in St. Paul two years ago. The rally had an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 participants. Both Sundin and Kelly were arrested during the Republican Convention in 2008, along with 800 other people.
Activist Tom Burke issued a statement that was published in Fight Back! saying "The government hopes to use a grand jury to frame up activists. The goal of these raids is to harass and try to intimidate the movement against U.S. wars and occupations, and those who oppose U.S. support for repressive regimes. They are designed to suppress dissent and free speech, to divide the peace movement, and to pave the way for more U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and Latin America." Burke is a Colombia solidarity activist.
Fight Back! said "The activists are involved with many groups, including: the Palestine Solidarity Group, Students for a Democratic Society, the Twin-Cities Anti-War Committee, the Colombia Action Network, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and the National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera (a Colombian Political Prisoner)."