Two Queens men were planning a “violent jihad,” hoping to bomb Manhattan synagogues, a Queens church and even the Empire State Building, authorities said in announcing their arrest Thursday.
Ahmed Ferhani, a 26-year-old Algerian native, and Mohammed Mamdouh, a 20-year-old of Moroccan descent, were recorded by undercover police saying they were angry at the way Muslims were being treated “like dogs” around the world, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news conference Thursday.
The duo was specifically focused on bombing unspecified synagogues in Hasidic disguises “one after another,” Kelly said. In one scenario, they allegedly planned to bomb a major Manhattan synagogue while disguised as Hasidic worshippers.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Ferhani “was very clear about what he wanted to do: Get guns, get explosives, blow up synagogues and kill Jews.”
They duo was charged on Thursday evening with conspiracy to commit terror and hate crimes and held without bail. If convicted, the maximum sentence is life in prison without parole. Lawyers for both men did not immediately return phone calls for comment.
Although the NYPD has been on high alert since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Kelly said the investigation began seven months ago and there were no direct ties between the two men and any terrorist groups.
Though terrorism cases are normally pursued by the FBI, the agency passed on prosecuting the case and left it instead to the DA’s office because they didn’t believe the pair’s plans were operational, the Daily News reported.
Ferhani’s Toyota Corolla was cornered in midtown by six unmarked police vehicles at about 6 p.m. Wednesday after he purchased two semi-automatic pistols, a handgun, ammunition and an inert hand grenade from an undercover officer, Kelly said. Mamdouh was arrested a few blocks away.