Most of the contact between the Al Qaeda fake and the group was between January and March of this year. A last operation-related contact occurred April 6; then nothing, according to the indictment.
Finally in late May, the group's leader met with the FBI informant to tell him that he was "experiencing delays because of various problems within his organization" -- yes, that appears to mean the other six dudes -- but wanted to keep ties to Al Qaeda. Which sounds suspiciously like an "it's not you, it's me, but let's still be friends" break-up talk to me, but what do I know.
That the case appears to be a stretch is becoming increasingly clear by the hour. For instance, prosecutors assert one man calls himself "Brother Sunni," when the man's relatives say he goes by "Brother Sonny" -- same pronunciation, but remarkably different implications.
Perhaps -- despite the absence of explosives, guns, a plan or any funding or material support outside of what the FBI provided -- these men were in fact dangerous. After all, OK City bomber Tim McVeigh was hardly a rocket scientist; the Columbine massacre was carried out by two high school kids; and the DC sniper was just a head case and an impressionable young man.
Indeed, no one's saying they didn't deserve police scrutiny, or shouldn't have been arrested. But by the available evidence, they don't appear to be a "sleeper cell" of Al Qaeda terrorists, nor do they seem poised to commit the next 9/11. (Ski masks, in Miami?) I think I'm going to make a few phone calls.