Sunday, May 15, 2011

15-May-11: Tentacles: Terrorism charges and arrests in New York City, Florida

From yesterday's New York Daily News [link]
The Wall Street Journal today describes how Justice Department officials are busy trying to gain the trust of Muslim communities around the US while guarding against possible reprisal attacks following the killing of Osama bin Laden. But it isn't going so well for them.

Saturday, six perfectly ordinary people, good neighbours all, were arrested in Florida by federal authorities and charged with being part of the Taliban terrorist organization. The six "are charged with conspiracy and providing material support to murder, maim and kidnap" and include
"two imams at mosques in Florida, have been indicted on charges that include providing support to Pakistani Taliban terror plots, federal prosecutors said Saturday. Miami U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer announced the charges following the arrests of Hafiz Muhammed Sher Ali Khan, 76-year-old imam of the Miami Mosque; his son Izhar Khan, 24 years old, an imam at Jamaat al-Mu'mineen Mosque in Margate, Fla., a nearby suburb; and another son, Irfan Khan, 37 years old. All three are U.S. citizens of Pakistani rigin and residents of south Florida. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Hafiz Khan after early morning services outside his Miami mosque and Izhar Khan was arrested in the parking lot of his mosque around the same time early Saturday, said John Gillies, special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami office. Irfan Khan was arrested at a hotel in Los Angeles, he said. Also charged are Amina Khan, her son Alam Zeb, and Ali Rehman, all residents of Pakistan. They haven't been arrested. Ms. Khan is a daughter of Hafiz Khan, and Mr. Zeb a grandson." 
A law enforcement official is quoted saying:
"Despite being an imam, or spiritual leader, Hafiz Khan was by no means a man of peace. Instead, as today's charges show, he acted with others to support terrorists to further acts of murder, kidnapping and maiming."
A little further north, two so-called "lone wolves" planned to dress up as Hasidic Jews and slaughter worshipers at city synagogues after selling guns and drugs to finance the diabolical plot, in the words of police quoted in the New York Daily News. Their goal was to hit so-far-unspecified New York City  synagogues using grenades and guns.
"Details of the mission were revealed Thursday after the Queens duo - whom neighbors called knuckleheads - were charged with terrorism and hate crimes... Cops say the ringleader, Algerian-born Ahmed Ferhani, 27, who sought asylum here with his family in 1999, also fantasized about blowing up the Empire State Building and a Queens church. Ferhani enlisted a Moroccan pal, Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, in a plan to sneak into "a major synagogue in Manhattan" disguised in Orthodox-style beards and side curls to plant a bomb. "He was committed to violent jihad, and his plan became bigger and more violent with each passing week," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. said. [According to NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg] "New York City police officers were watching them and were in position to take them into custody before they could maim and murder innocent New Yorkers"... Ferhani, a former cosmetics salesman at Saks Fifth Avenue, had discussed avenging the treatment of Muslims. "He was fed up with the way Muslims were being treated around the world," said Kelly, quoting Ferhani telling an undercover cop... Ferhani was arrested last year on charges he tied up and robbed a woman who invited him back to her room at the Park Central Hotel in midtown, but a grand jury declined to indict. He also has prior arrests for marijuana possession, disorderly conduct and weapon possession. Mamdouh has a burglary case on his rap sheet. He's a graduate of Flushing High School, the alma mater of several suspects implicated last year in a terror plot to bomb city subways." 
Suspects have never been charged before under the New York state anti-terror laws that were passed after the 9/11 attacks. It is reported that US federal prosecutors declined to press the case, saying the plan was more aspirational than operational.

It's clear that the ongoing lessons in this ongoing war, including those of 9/11, need to be relearned and retaught in an ongoing way because the threats are not diminishing. They're growing.

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