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Ahmed Ferhani Pleads Guilty To Terror Charges For 2011 Plot To Blow Up Manhattan Synagogues And Chur

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Plea Marks the First Time a Terrorist Has Been Convicted on State Terror Charges in New York State Court

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., has announced the guilty plea of Ahmed Ferhani, 27, to terror-related charges in connection with a plot targeting New York synagogues and churches. The defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the First Degree as a Crime of Terrorism, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree as a Crime of Terrorism, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree as a Crime of Terrorism, Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree as a Crime of Terrorism, Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree as a Crime of Terrorism, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree as a Hate Crime. He was arrested in May 2011, following an 8-month undercover operation conducted by the New York City Police Department and an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Today’s plea marks the first time a terrorist has been convicted on state terror charges since the New York Anti-Terror Laws were passed shortly after September 11, 2001. Ferhani is expected is be sentenced on January 30, 2013.

“Manhattan embodies everything that terrorists hate about our lives and our culture: diversity, tolerance, and opportunity,” said District Attorney Vance. “The threat is real, and terrorism requires us to be constantly on alert. Whether targeting well-organized terror cells or lone wolves planning their own jihad, there is no margin for error because a successful terror attack will be deadly.

“In this case, we investigated and stopped a terrorist who planned and purchased the means with which to carry out an attack in Manhattan. With our partners in the NYPD, we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent an attack from occurring here, or anywhere in the world. I want to thank the NYPD Intelligence Division and Commissioner Kelly for their leadership in making sure we stay two steps ahead of those who would do us harm.”

According to the defendant’s guilty plea and documents filed in court, between October 2010 and May 2011, Ferhani conspired to bomb synagogues and churches in Manhattan to send a message of violence to non-Muslims, including Americans, Christians, and Jews.

In mid-April, 2011, Ferhani repeatedly discussed with an undercover detective his desire to blow up the biggest synagogue in Manhattan, and said that he was selling drugs to fund his plan. He told undercover detectives that he wanted to buy guns and grenades, and that grenades could be thrown two at a time into a synagogue. He also said he wanted to use grenades to blow up churches. At one point, the defendant instructed a detective not to use the word “synagogue” on the phone, in case authorities were listening to their calls.

According to documents filed in court, Ferhani asked a detective to contact someone about how to make a bomb, and suggested a plan to dress up as Jewish worshippers, attend a service at a synagogue, and leave a bag containing a bomb inside the synagogue before departing. On May 5, 2011, Ferhani and the detective met in Manhattan with a second undercover detective whom Ferhani believed was a weapons dealer. During the meeting, Ferhani stated, in substance, that he wanted to buy grenades, and would pay several hundred dollars to purchase two guns.

According the defendant’s guilty plea and documents previously filed in court, on May 11, 2011, Ferhani and a co-conspirator again met with an undercover detective at Ferhani’s residence in Queens, where they discussed their plan to purchase two Brownings, one Smith & Wesson, and a grenade. While en route from Queens into Manhattan by car, the defendant stated, in substance, that he wanted to blow up buildings in New York City. Ferhani handed over $100 as payment for the guns, and said he would pay the rest later. He also announced his desire to purchase additional weapons and devices in the future for “the cause,” including a silencer, bulletproof vests, police radio interceptor, and a box of grenades. Ferhani stated, in substance, that Muslims were being abused all over the world and that he was not going to accept it.

Ferhani was arrested on May 11, 2011, in Manhattan, after purchasing two operable Browning semi-automatic pistols, one operable Smith and Wesson revolver, ammunition, and one inert grenade.

Assistant District Attorneys Margaret Gandy, and Gary J. Galperin, Senior Investigative Counsel of the Rackets Bureau, prosecuted the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Eric Seidel, Chief of the Organized Crime Unit, Daniel Brownell, Chief of the Rackets Bureau, and then-Executive Assistant District Attorney Adam S. Kaufmann, Chief of the Investigation Division. Trial Preparation Assistant Willimina Bromer assisted in this case.

District Attorney Vance thanked Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, Deputy Commissioner David Cohen, and the NYPD Intelligence Division.

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