On closer examination, however, the accusations fizzled. Even government officials described the groups' plans as "more aspirational than operational."
Now, more than a year later, it comes down to a jury to decide whether the men, who were living in Miami's low-income Liberty City area, were homegrown terrorists bent on bringing down the U.S. government or innocent dupes entrapped by paid informants...
Among legal analysts, the case is seen as a test of government efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to arrest potential terrorists before they can strike. One question the case raises is how law enforcement should treat suspects, such as the Liberty City defendants, who don't pose an imminent threat.
"What this case reveals is the underbelly of the preventive paradigm, which is that you end up dealing with people who are at best wannabes," said Peter Margulies, a law professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. "If you look at the indictment, you get the feeling that some of the people were probably never serious about the plot."