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June 25, 2013 0

’93 Landmark Plot Foreshowed Domestic Terror Threat

landmark-plot-omar-abdel-rahman

Omar Abdel Rahman

Yes­ter­day marked the 20th anniver­sary of the arrest of eight fol­low­ers of rad­i­cal Egypt­ian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rah­man for con­spir­ing to carry out a cam­paign of ter­ror­ism against New York City land­marks and officials.

The arrests not only fore­shad­owed efforts to attack New York City in the years since 1993 — most hor­rif­i­cally on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 — but also how ter­ror­ists link their oppo­si­tion to Amer­ica with their hatred of Jews and Israel.

The major land­marks that were tar­geted in the 1993 plot included the United Nations Head­quar­ters, the Lin­coln Tun­nel, the Hol­land Tun­nel, the George Wash­ing­ton Bridge and the FBI office. Notably, the plot­ters also dis­cussed attack­ing New York’s dia­mond dis­trict, an area largely pop­u­lated by Jew­ish busi­ness­men, which, accord­ing to one them, would be like “hit­ting Israel itself.”

The arrest came four months after a car bomb­ing at Tower One of the World Trade Cen­ter in New York City killed six peo­ple and wounded more than 1,000 oth­ers. Ramzi Yousef, the mas­ter­mind behind the attack, first planned to bomb Jew­ish neigh­bor­hoods in Brook­lyn, but set­tled on the World Trade Cen­ter because “the major­ity of peo­ple who work in the World Trade Cen­ter are Jews,” accord­ing to Abdul Rah­man Yasin, a co-conspirator in the attack.

In the 20 years since the foiled land­marks plot and first World Trade Cen­ter bomb­ing, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ide­olo­gies remain a core fea­ture in the pro­pa­ganda dis­trib­uted by ter­ror­ist organizations.

For exam­ple, every issue of Al Qaeda’s Inspire mag­a­zine, which has influ­enced numer­ous inter­na­tional and domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Boston Marathon Bombers, has been sat­u­rated with anti-Jewish and anti-Israel nar­ra­tives. The abil­ity for Al Qaeda to dis­sem­i­nate such pro­pa­ganda online and recruit would-be Jihadists around the world was vir­tu­ally unheard on in June 1993.al-qaeda-new-york-threat

But while the com­mu­ni­ca­tion and recruit­ment has sig­nif­i­cantly changed, efforts to attack New York remain unchanged, as do the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel moti­va­tions. Sev­eral post-9/11 plots and con­spir­a­cies tar­get­ing Jews have taken place around the coun­try and in New York in par­tic­u­lar. For example:

  • In May 2011, Ahmed Fer­hani, a legal res­i­dent from Alge­ria, and Moham­mad Mam­douh, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen of Moroc­can decent, were arrested for plot­ting to attack a syn­a­gogue in New York City in order to advance their rad­i­cal ide­o­log­i­cal goals. Dur­ing his sen­tenc­ing, 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.” New York Police Com­mis­sioner Ray­mond Kelly said Fer­hani planned to grow out his beard in order to look “more like a Jew” and enter a syn­a­gogue more easily.
  • Zarein Ahmedzay, a nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zen from Afghanistan, admit­ted in fed­eral court that he and two other New York­ers planned to det­o­nate home­made explo­sives on New York City sub­way lines dur­ing the days fol­low­ing the eighth anniver­sary of the Sep­tem­ber 11 ter­ror attacks. While enter­ing his guilty plea, 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 the United States of America.”
  • A sim­i­lar plot occurred in 2009, when four men, includ­ing three Amer­i­can Mus­lim con­verts, planned to attack syn­a­gogues in the Bronx and a mil­i­tary base in New­burgh, in response to per­ceived Amer­i­can actions against Mus­lims around the world. The men planted what they believed to be bombs in cars out­side of the Riverdale Tem­ple and the nearby Riverdale Jew­ish Cen­ter.  In a con­ver­sa­tion with an under­cover infor­mant, one of the plot­ters, James Cromi­tie, stated his desire to “destroy” the Jews. “The worst brother in the whole Islamic world is bet­ter than 10 bil­lion Yahudi (Jews),” Cromi­tie stated.  “With no hes­i­ta­tion, I will kill 10 Yahudis.”
  • In 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 planned the attack in part because they wanted to take revenge on the U.S. for its diplo­matic rela­tion­ship with Israel. Defre­itas later report­edly 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.” Court doc­u­ments have also alleged that Defre­itas had sug­gested tar­get­ing a nearby Jew­ish school or a pre­dom­i­nately Jew­ish neighborhood.
  • In 2004, Amer­i­can cit­i­zen James Elshafay and Sha­hawar Matin Siraj, a Pak­istani who was in the U.S. ille­gally, plot­ted to bomb New York’s Her­ald Square sub­way 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 at the book­store where Siraj worked, and Siraj gave Elshafay books that claimed the Jews were con­spir­ing to take over the world’s economy.

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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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