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FBI jails, investigates St. Joseph man with 'suspected terrorist links'

October 03, 2011|By Clifton French (cfrench@wsbt.com), Click here to follow Clifton on Twitter | By Clifton French (cfrench@wsbt.com), Click here to follow Clifton on Twitter

A St. Joseph, Mich. man is in jail after an FBI agent says he tried to ram his vehicle while he was tailing him because of suspected terrorist links.

"They've been wonderful neighbors, and we wouldn't ask for anything else," said neighbor Jackie Wisecup.

On a quiet street in St. Joseph, worries are usually few and far between.

"This is a huge shock,” said Wisecup. “This is a very quiet neighborhood."

But a recent incident shed some light on a terrorist investigation right here in Michiana.

Federal court documents just released show the FBI's interest in the man started back in March, that's when FBI agents searched 26-year-old Reed Stanley Berry's home and computer. In May, agents conducted another search, this time digging through Berry's Yahoo account.

There, the FBI says it found information that shows Berry was in contact with and in support of foreign terrorist organizations, or FTOs.

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FBI Western Michigan District supervisor, John King wouldn't go into details about what was found, stating that the investigation is "ongoing."

According to the court documents, on the weekend of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, agents started 24-hour surveillance on Berry. FBI agents were following Berry in his car between St. Joseph and Benton Harbor on September 9. The documents say Berry noticed the tail earlier in the day, but around 10 p.m. he became aggressive. The documents say Berry came to a stop on Woodland Drive in St. Joseph, near his home, kicked his car into reverse and tried to slam into an agent’s vehicle.

The agent was able to move his car out of the way, but Berry was arrested and now faces assault charges against that agent.

Berry's defense attorney says none of the allegations are true.

“There's no history with Mr. Berry about any terrorist activity,” said defense attorney Elias Muawad. “The allegations by the government have to do with First Amendment rights as far as going on Internet websites such as what they claim to be jihadist websites, compared to if he's actually materially supporting terrorists, which he's not."

According to the FBI, Berry stated he had plans to move to London where his wife currently lives. 

The FBI also received information from an acquaintance of Berry's that he had planned to "vacation in Somalia."

This is not Berry's first incident with the law.

According to Michigan's Department of Corrections, Berry was released in June of this year after serving about four years for the delivery and manufacture of marijuana. 

Court documents show he was still serving that sentence when his home in St. Joseph was searched two times this year.

He also served time in Berrien County for a few months in 2007 on the same charge.

In 2003 he was locked up for nearly four months for possession of marijuana.

Berry's attorney expects him to be indicted on the recent assault charge within the next two to three weeks. A judge has ordered Berry to remain in custody in the Newaygo County Jail pending trial.

No charges have been filed related to the possible terrorist links. The FBI did not say if it would go forward with any charges. Berry's attorney says he is prepared to fight those chages if any are filed.

Click here to read the court documents



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