FORT LAUDERDALE -- A Pakistan-born man plotted to avenge U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan by blowing up a New York City landmark, such as Times Square, but lacked the money and materials to carry out the plan, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gilbert said at a bail hearing that Raees Alam Qazi, 20, researched bomb-making techniques on Internet sites affiliated with al-Qaida, including one using Christmas tree lights. The FBI recorded phone calls and conversations linking Qazi to a purported "lone wolf" plot to avenge deaths from the drones, she said.
"He fully intended to do this, and thankfully he didn't have enough money," Gilbert said.
New York police spokesman Paul J. Browne said the investigation was part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes NYPD cops.
"His targets included Wall Street, Times Square and movie houses," Browne said.
Qazi traveled to New York last month to find a job to fund his terrorist plans, Gilbert said, but wound up sleeping on public transportation, in a mosque and in restaurants, and riding a bicycle around the city looking for potential targets. He then decided to return home and was arrested after arriving back in South Florida, she said.
Qazi is charged along with his brother, taxi driver Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 30, with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the United States. The elder Qazi supported his brother financially and logistically, the prosecutor said.
Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry a potential life sentence.U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman ordered Raees Qazi held without bail until trial.
Qazi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, confirmed many elements of the plot in a statement to FBI agents after his arrest in late November, Gilbert said. Investigators also found bomb-making and related components at the Qazi family home in Oakland Park, near Fort Lauderdale, as well as explosives research evidence on a computer he used.With Chau Lam