FBI Task Force calls New York City Synagogue Bombing Plot Terror Case Hyped, and Refuses to Investigate It
– WNYC has learned the lack of Federal participation in the
high-profile case of two Queens men allegedly involved in a plot to blow
up New York City synagogues and churches was related to concerns it was
not a bona fide terrorism case.
Two Federal law enforcement
sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to speak publicly, said the FBI did not take the case of the
two alleged Queens terrorists because the undercover operation was
problematic and the end result was being over-hyped. They also expressed
concern the case would ultimately not hold up in court as terrorism
case. “Should guys that want to buy guns be off the street, absolutely,”
one of the Federal officials said.
Deputy Police Commissioner
Paul Browne rejected the Federal critique and said “When somebody
acquires weapons and plans to bomb the largest synagogue in Manhattan
he can find, what do you call it, mischief?”
At the press
conference announcing the arrests of Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh,
local officials said the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force had the right
of first refusal on all terrorism cases, but had opted out of this one.
Officials characterized the case as one involving a “pair of lone
wolves” who were not part of a broader global terrorism conspiracy.
Federal and local terrorism officials have been increasingly concerned
about the potential proliferation of such “home-grown” independent
actors, like Faisal Shahzad who tried to set off a car bomb in Time
Square to avenge the death of Muslim civilians in US counter-terror
In this latest case, both young men have pleaded not
guilty. They are being prosecuted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus
Vance under a state terrorism statute passed in the aftermath of the
September 11th attacks.
New York’s Federal Joint Terrorism Task
Force is an elite and highly-regarded collaboration that includes some
300 investigators from the FBI, the NYPD and 50 other local and Federal
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