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Grand jury indicts man held in bomb plot

Ahmed Ferhani, left, 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20,

Ahmed Ferhani, left, 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, stand before a judge during their arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court in Manhattan. They allegedly aspired to bomb synagogues, churches and the Empire State Building. (May 12, 2011) Credit: Getty Images / pool

One of the two men arrested last week on charges they plotted to bomb synagogues and other city locations has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, his attorney said.

Ahmed Ferhani, 26, an aspiring actor from Queens, was notified at a hearing Tuesday in Manhattan criminal court that a grand jury voted to indict him, said defense attorney Stephen Pokart.

The other suspect, Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, also appeared in court separately and agreed to give prosecutors more time to seek an indictment, said a spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office. He is due back in court June 2.

Pokart said the grand jury notice is a routine procedure. While the papers don't spell out the charges, Pokart said they likely include the same state offenses listed in the original criminal complaint filed last week: conspiracy as a crime of terrorism, conspiracy as a hate crime, and criminal possession of a weapon.

"He is keeping his spirits up," Pokart said of Ferhani, who like Mamdouh is being held without bail on Rikers Island. Ferhani is next due in court June 16, said Pokart. He said Ferhani denies any crime.

Aaron Mysliwiec, a defense attorney for Mamdouh, said in a statement his client deserves the presumption of innocence.

Ferhani and Mamdouh were arrested last week as the result of an NYPD intelligence operation after officials said they agreed to buy guns and explosives from an undercover officer.

The defendants were accused of planning to use the weapons to "kill Jews" and attack landmarks such as the Empire State Building, according to officials. They were arrested May 11 on the west side of Manhattan after Ferhani purchased guns from an undercover cop, officials said.

The case is being prosecuted under little-used state anti-terrorism laws after the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force declined to pursue it, said law-enforcement officials. Mysliwiec said reports that some in the FBI have raised questions about the case will be explored.


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