Father of suspect in terror plot at loss

Associated Press | June 24, 2006
By Doug Simpson

BUNKIE, La. - The father of a man accused in a terrorism plot to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower said Saturday he was at a loss to explain how his son was suspected of leading such a group. 
"He's not in his right mind, I'll tell you that," Narcisse Batiste, 72, said in an interview from his home in Bunkie, La.

His 32-year-old son, Narseal, and six other men were arrested Thursday in a Miami warehouse. Federal authorities said they had no explosives and lacked adequate funding, with their only link to al-Qaida being an FBI informant fronting as a member of the terrorist group.

Their alleged plot to blow up the 110-floor tower in Chicago and government buildings around Miami was labeled "more aspirational than operational" by FBI officials.

Narseal Batiste was accused of being the group's ringleader, telling the informant that he and his soldiers wanted to attend al-Qaida training and planned a "full ground war" against the United States to "kill all the devils we can," according to an indictment.

Investigators said all members of the alleged plot were in custody on conspiracy charges.

Narcisse Batiste said he had not seen his son, Narseal, the youngest of his family of five boys and one girl, since right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, his son expressed shock over the attacks.

"He even said himself, `that's terrible what they've done to us.' He didn't like it all," Batiste said.

But something had changed in Batiste's youngest offspring about the time his mother, Audrey Batiste, died in 2000 after complications from surgery.

"All of my kids took that so hard," Batiste said. "It has a lot to do with his actions, I can tell you that."

During Narseal Batiste's childhood, the family moved back and forth between Marksville, in the heart of Louisiana's Cajun country, and Chicago where the elder Batiste earned money doing bricklaying and other construction work trades that he said he taught all of his sons.

Narseal Batiste attended Catholic school in Chicago and a public school near Marksville, playing the saxophone in the high school marching band and excelling in English and art, according to his father.

Narcisse Batiste said he believed his son and his wife, Minerva, were operating a construction business in Miami. His son has three boys and a girl, he said.

Narseal Batiste seemed normal the last time they met, the father said.

"He showed love. He was friendly. That's the way he left me," he said.