Two Florida brothers, Raees Alam Qazi (20) and Sheheryar Alam Qazi (30), identified as naturalized citizens from Pakistan were charged Friday with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, federal officials said.
The indictment alleges that between July 2011 and Nov. 29, 2012, the suspects were conspiring to “provide material support and resources — including property, services, funding, lodging, communications equipment, personnel and transportation — knowing and intending that this support be used in preparation for and in carrying out a violation of law — namely, a conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.”
The suspects were “conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against persons and property within the United States” during the same timeframe, the indictment alleged.
One official knowledgeable of the case described to ABC news the man’s intent as “serious,” but it did not appear that an attack was imminent. “This was not a sting,” sources told ABC News, adding that the younger brother had been in contact with overseas radicals, possibly connected to al Qaeda.
‘‘Any potential threat posed by these two individuals has been disrupted,’’ said Miami U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer.
“The FBI’s number one priority is counterterrorism and we continue to work with our partners to protect the U.S. and its people from harm,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Steinbach of the FBI’s Miami Division in a news release. “To be clear, this is not an indictment against a particular community or religion. Instead, today’s indictment charges two individuals for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and to use a weapon of mass destruction.”
Two people who identified themselves as the men’s mother and brother told The Associated Press, outside their condominium, that one of the jailed men is married.
“It’s just a whole misunderstanding. A family like this with a baby like this would never do anything like this,” the brother said. He was reluctant to talk, worrying “a lot of people don’t know what’s true” and stressing that his family has strong values.
“Always love people, always try to help people, if your car breaks down I will help you,” he said.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen E. Gilbert, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
If convicted, the Qazis face a sentence of up to 15 years in prison on the material support charge, and a potential life sentence on the weapon of mass destruction charge.