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December 5, 2012 1

New York Synagogue Bomb Plot Suspect Pleads Guilty

Ahmed Fer­hani

Update: On March 15, 2013, Fer­hani was sen­tenced to 10 years in prison. On April 26, Ferhani’s  cocon­spir­a­tor, Moham­mad Mam­douh was sen­tenced to 5 years in prison.

Ahmed Fer­hani, a legal U.S. res­i­dent from Alge­ria, pleaded guilty yes­ter­day to ter­ror­ism charges stem­ming from his role in a plot to attack a New York City syn­a­gogue. The foiled plot was the lat­est is a series of post-9/11 ter­ror plots moti­vated, in part, by hatred of Jews and Israel.

Fer­hani, 27, and his alleged cocon­spir­a­tor Moham­mad Mam­douh, 21, were arrested on May 11, 2011, after attempt­ing to pur­chase weapons, includ­ing guns and a hand grenade, from an under­cover offi­cer dur­ing a sting operation.

Read­ing a pre­pared state­ment in Man­hat­tan Supreme Court yes­ter­day, Fer­hani said, “I repeat­edly discussed…my anger towards Jews based on what I believed and per­ceived to be their mis­treat­ment of Mus­lims through­out the world. I intended to cre­ate chaos and send a mes­sage of intim­i­da­tion and coer­cion to the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion of New York City, warn­ing them to stop mis­treat­ing Muslims.”

As part of his plea deal, Fer­hani pleaded guilty to 10 terror-related and hate crime charges and is sched­uled to be sen­tenced next month.

Dur­ing the under­cover oper­a­tion, Fer­hani allegedly said that Pales­tini­ans are par­tic­u­larly vic­tim­ized and allegedly expressed inter­est in trav­el­ing to Gaza to fight. At the time of the arrest, New York Police Com­mis­sioner Kelly said Fer­hani planned to grow out his beard in order to look “more like a Jew” and enter a syn­a­gogue more easily.

Other ter­ror plots in New York in recent years have been sim­i­larly moti­vated, in part, by hatred of Jews and Israel, including:

Sep­tem­ber 2009: Zarein Ahmedzay, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen from Afghanistan, and two other New York­ers were arrested for plot­ting to det­o­nate home­made explo­sives on New York City sub­way lines dur­ing the days fol­low­ing the eighth anniver­sary of the 9/11 ter­ror attacks. While enter­ing his guilty plea a year later, Ahmedzay stated that “the real ene­mies of this coun­try are the ones destroy­ing this coun­try from within” and con­demned “a spe­cial group of Zion­ist Jews” who want to “estab­lish a per­ma­nent shadow gov­ern­ment in the­United States of America.”

May 2009: Four Mus­lim con­verts, three Amer­i­can and one Hait­ian, were arrested for an alleged plot to attack two syn­a­gogues in the Bronx and to shoot down planes at a mil­i­tary base inNewburgh,New York. James Cromi­tie, the appar­ent leader of the group, and the other three men allegedly began sur­veil­lance of sev­eral syn­a­gogues and a Jew­ish Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in the­Bronx in April 2009. “These were peo­ple who were eager to bring death to Jews,” Assis­tant U.S. Attor­ney Eric Sny­der said at a court hear­ing the day after the arrests. The men were sub­se­quently sen­tenced to 25 years in prison.

Novem­ber 2008: Amer­i­can cit­i­zen Bryant Neal Vinas was arrested for pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion about New York City tran­sit sys­tems to Al Qaeda for poten­tial ter­ror­ist attacks and for fir­ing rock­ets at an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary base in Afghanistan. Vinas, who was angry with the U.S. gov­ern­ment for its sup­port of Israel, was also involved with the Islamic Thinkers Soci­ety, a New York-based anti-Semitic extrem­ist group that calls for the destruc­tion of the state of Israel. He also met with the for­mer leader of Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim, another New York-based anti-Semitic orga­ni­za­tion that jus­ti­fies ter­ror­ist attacks and other forms of vio­lence against non-Muslims. Vinas sub­se­quently pleaded guilty to all three charges against him.

Feb­ru­ary 2007: Rus­sell Defre­itas, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S.citizen from Guyana, and three other men were arrested for plot­ting to attack New York’s John F. Kennedy Inter­na­tional Air­port. The men plot­ted the attack in part because they wanted to take revenge on theU.S. for its diplo­matic rela­tion­ship with­Is­rael. Defre­itas later told an infor­mant that Mus­lims “incur the wrath of the world while Jews get a pass,” and that he “wanted to do some­thing to get those bas­tards,” accord­ing to court doc­u­ments. Defre­itas also sug­gested tar­get­ing a nearby Jew­ish school or a pre­dom­i­nately Jew­ish neigh­bor­hood. Defre­itas was sub­se­quently sen­tenced to life in prison.

August 2004: Amer­i­can cit­i­zen James Elshafay and another man plot­ted to bomb­New York’sHerald Square­sub­way sta­tion. In con­ver­sa­tions secretly recorded by an under­cover infor­mant, Elshafay talked about his hatred of “Zion­ists” and his sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tini­ans, accord­ing to court doc­u­ments. The men also watched ter­ror­ist videos and shared books that claimed the Jews were con­spir­ing to take over the world’s econ­omy. Elshafay was sub­se­quently sen­tenced to 30 years in prison.

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May 23, 2012 0

Anarchist Arrests Mark NATO Summit

Five indi­vid­u­als have been arrested by Chicago police in three sep­a­rate bomb-related cases dur­ing the lead-up to the recent NATO Summit.

Three men were arrested in a raid last Wednes­day in con­nec­tion to an alleged plot to attack Pres­i­dent Obama’s cam­paign head­quar­ters and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s home, as well as police and finan­cial insti­tu­tions. The men were in pos­ses­sion of Molo­tov cock­tails and instruc­tions for mak­ing pipe bombs, accord­ing to court documents.

The sus­pects, who have been iden­ti­fied as Brian Church, 22 from Florida, Jared Chase, 27 from New Hamp­shire, and Brent Bet­terly, 24 from Mass­a­chu­setts, are all self-described anar­chists. The three trav­eled to Chicago together from Florida, where they were report­edly involved with the Occupy Movement.

Last month, five self-described anar­chists with ties to the Occupy Move­ment were arrested in Ohio after allegedly attempt­ing to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge “to send a mes­sage to cor­po­ra­tions and the United States government.”

Sebas­t­ian Senakiewicz, a 24-year-old self-described anar­chist, was also arrested in Chicago for mak­ing a false ter­ror­is­tic threat. Pros­e­cu­tors said Senakiewicz was unsat­is­fied with the relative-calm lead­ing up to the NATO Sum­mit and allegedly bragged he could blow up a down­town bridge. He report­edly claimed he had access to a vehi­cle packed with explo­sives and weapons.

In fifth man, Mark Nei­weem, 28, was charged with attempted pos­ses­sion of explo­sives. While charg­ing doc­u­ments do not men­tion tar­gets or his motives, the charges assert that he asked other pro­test­ers for mate­ri­als to con­struct a pipe bomb.

Nei­weem is report­edly a mem­ber of the Anar­chist Black Cross (ABC) and fre­quented their online chat rooms. ABC is a national col­lec­tive that aims to sup­port and defend polit­i­cal pris­on­ers and has indi­cated sup­port for class war (abol­ish­ing cap­i­tal­ism). Some ABC “col­lec­tives” merged into a fed­er­a­tion advo­cat­ing armed self-defense through its Tac­ti­cal Defense Cau­cus, which it hoped would orga­nize, recruit and train anar­chists in the tac­ti­cal use of firearms. In his tes­ti­mony before the Sen­ate Com­mit­tee on Intel­li­gence in Feb­ru­ary of 2005, Robert Mueller, Direc­tor of the FBI, iden­ti­fied the fed­er­a­tion as a poten­tial threat to national security.

Other anar­chists clashed with police at the end of an oth­er­wise peace­ful anti-war protest Sun­day, lead­ing to dozens more arrests.

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May 1, 2012 0

Five Apparent Anarchists Arrested In Plot To Bomb Cleveland Bridge

Update — June 13, 2013: Joshua Stafford was con­victed of con­spir­ing to use a weapon of mass destruc­tion on June 13. He faces up to life-in-prison. The other four sus­pects have all pleaded guilty and were sen­tenced to between six and ten years in prison. 

Five Ohio men were arrested Mon­day night after allegedly attempt­ing to blow up a Cleveland-area bridge “to send a mes­sage to cor­po­ra­tions and the United States government.”

The five men, Dou­glas Wright, Bran­don Bax­ter, Anthony Hayne, Con­nor Stevens, and Joshua Stafford, had been con­sid­er­ing acts of vio­lence for months, accord­ing to fed­eral agents. Two of the men placed what they believed to be explo­sive devices at the bridge and tried to remotely det­o­nate it. The devices, how­ever, were inert and pro­vided by the FBI as part of a sting operation.

Wright, Bax­ter, and Hayne have been charged with con­spir­acy and attempted use of explo­sives; charges against Stevens and Stafford are pending.

All five men were appar­ently involved in Occupy Cleve­land protests and have been char­ac­ter­ized by law enforce­ment or self-identify as anar­chists. Hayne, Stafford, and Bax­ter list the move­ment as their “employer” on their Face­book pages.

In recorded con­ver­sa­tion with the FBI, Bax­ter dis­cussed the impact of blow­ing up a bridge. “Tak­ing out a bridge in the busi­ness dis­trict would cost the…corporate big wigs a lot of money,” he said. Wright believed that the Occupy Move­ment had been coopted by “cor­po­rate Amer­i­can and law enforce­ment” and that there­fore they needed new recruits from out­side the movement.

The media coor­di­na­tor for Occupy Cleve­land denied any knowl­edge of the planned attack, but acknowl­edged that some mem­bers of the move­ment are acquainted with the suspects.

Baxter’s anti-capitalist views were voiced in inter­view last month dur­ing a protest in Cleve­land against home fore­clo­sures. “…I feel the pow­ers that be, who­ever they might be — on all lev­els of gov­ern­ment and those who hold cor­po­rate power — are not lis­ten­ing because not enough peo­ple are actu­ally tak­ing a stance…”

The five men allegedly con­sid­ered other tar­gets for attack, includ­ing the local Fed­eral Reserve Bank and law enforce­ment Fusion Cen­ter, before set­tling on the bridge. Bax­ter inquired into tar­get­ing the Klan or other neo-Nazi groups in Ohio, but was dis­suaded when he was told they were not in Cleve­land. He claimed to have pre­vi­ously par­tic­i­pated in a protest against the Klan in Oak­land, California.

The planned attack was allegedly timed to coin­cide with May Day, a cel­e­bra­tion of Inter­na­tional Work­ers Day that has been seized upon by anar­chist and anti-capitalist groups around the world. May Day events around the world have often fea­tured prop­erty destruc­tion and arrests.

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