Entries in Synagogue (6)


Alleged NYC Synagogue Bomb Plotters Plead Not Guilty

Lucas Jackson-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two Muslin men pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges related to what prosecutors say was a terrorist plot targeting New York synagogues.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office says Ahmed Ferhani, 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, “conspired to bomb synagogues and churches in Manhattan to send a message of violence to non-Muslims, including Americans, Christians, and, primarily, Jews.”

Prosecutors say the two men planned to “dress up as Jewish worshipers, attend a service at a synagogue, and leave a bag containing a bomb inside the synagogue before departing.”

According to the criminal indictment, between October 2010 and May 2011, the suspects planned to blow up 10 synagogues at one time and use grenades to blow up churches.

Prosecutors say a seven-month investigation began when the two men were recorded planning the attacks.  Authorities say they were arrested in May during a sting operation after they purchased weapons from an undercover agent.

Both men have been charged with numerous weapons possession and terrorism offenses.  Each faces up to 32 years in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Men Charged with Plotting Terror Attack on NYC Synagogues

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two men have been arrested in New York City, allegedly trying to buy weapons including three pistols and hand grenades as part of a terror plot to attack Manhattan synagogues, law enforcement sources said.

This is the thirteenth plot thwarted against the city since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, law enforcement officials said.

The men were arrested Wednesday night in Midtown Manhattan as part of a police operation that had begun prior to Osama bin Laden's death and was not a result of any retaliatory plan, sources said.

While the suspects, identified by authorities as 20-year-old Mohamed Mamdouh from Morocco and 26-year-old Ahmed Ferhani from Algeria, allegedly talked about attacking synagogues in Manhattan, no specific synagogue had been targeted, law enforcement sources said.

According to the criminal complaint obtained by ABC News, Ferhani told an undercover NYPD investigator he wanted to participate in "jihad" and support Gaza in the fight against Israel. He said that if he were to die in that pursuit, he would become a martyr, the complaint said.

Investigators said Ferhani, who is believed to have recruited Mamdouh for the alleged terror plot, lives in the basement of his father's home in the city. Police searched the home Wednesday night and confiscated a computer and several personal items.

The two men had already obtained some guns and were trying to buy more, as well as a grenade, law enforcement officials said. Their attempts were detected by investigators with the NYPD's Intelligence Division, who moved in to set up a sting.

The men "systematically engaged in conversations with an undercover NYPD officer, making clear their desire to obtain weapons and training to engage in terrorist activities in New York City," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a press conference.

The complaint said the undercover officer was able to convince the pair that he knew where they could get "clean" guns from a weapons dealer -- another undercover police officer.

At the supposed gun deal, Ferhani allegedly said, "Muslims is getting abused all over the world... I ain't gonna accept it [sic]." He was arrested after placing the weapons -- including an inert grenade -- in the trunk of his car, according to the complaint.

The pair has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon, attempted criminal possession of a weapon, conspiracy as a crime of terrorism and conspiracy as a hate crime.

"There was a lot of 'I hate Jews,' 'We hate Jews' in what was said," one source said.

The case has been ongoing for about six months with the NYPD and prosecutors working closely for much of that time, law enforcement sources said. The two could face up to life in prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Santa Monica Synagogue Blast Suspect Arrested in Cleveland

Federal Bureau of Investigation(CLEVELAND) -- The man suspected of using a never-before-seen launcher to fire a projectile at a Santa Monica, Calif., synagogue was arrested Monday night in Cleveland, Ohio by the FBI.

Ron Hirsch, who was the subject of a nationwide manhunt, boarded a bus the same day he hurled 300 pounds of pipe and concrete into the roof of a building adjacent to the Chabad House and less than a block from the Santa Monica synagogue, police said.

Investigators confirmed that a man known as J. Fisher, a known alias used by Hirsch, purchased the bus ticket. He was originally scheduled to arrive in New York on Sunday, but surveillance video shows him getting off the bus in Denver, Colo., investigators said.

Hirsch, who is believed to have family in New York, is a transient known in Los Angeles for towing a trailer full of possessions behind a bicycle, police sources said.

The projectile appears to have been fired from an alley, bounced off the center's wall and crashed through the roof. The bang shattered windows, punctured a hole in the synagogue and sent the 300-pound metal pipe into a neighbor's house where a young boy was sleeping. The incident took place shortly before prayer services at the Chabad House Thursday morning and triggered the evacuation of about 100 people from a four-block radius.

Hirsch is also known as Israel Fisher, according to information released by police. He constructed the projectile device using elements including concrete, explosive powder, dry ice and what appears to be an expansion joint sealant, or other expanding plastic or foam.

The oddly constructed mechanical launcher appears to have been highly effective at hurling its material, although it did not seriously damage the Chabad House, which appears to have been its target.

Law enforcement officials say Hirsch attempted to stay at a Jewish center in Cleveland, where a rabbi recognized him and notified authorities.

An investigation is underway.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Police Name Suspect in California Synagogue Blast

Santa Monica Police Department(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) -- Police have identified a suspect in a blast outside a synagogue and community center Thursday that was originally believed to have been an industrial accident. Police now say the explosion was caused by an intentionally-placed homemade explosive.

Ron Hirsch, 60, also known as Israel Fisher, is thought to be behind the Thursday morning explosion that sent a metal pipe encased in concrete through the roof of a home next door to Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica. No one was injured in the attack.

Police refer to Hirsch as a transient. He is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 207 pounds with brown hair and green eyes.

Hirsh faces numerous charges including possession of a destructive device.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Four Convicted in Synagogue Bomb Plot

Photo Courtesy - RiverdaleTemple [dot] org(NEW YORK) -- A federal jury in Manhattan found four defendants guilty Monday of plotting to blow up a synagogue and a Jewish community center as well as plotting to use a shoulder fired missile to take down a military plane at a suburban New York airport.

The case centered on the evidence of an informant whose tactics had been criticized by defense lawyers as approaching entrapment. The informant was also criticized for allegedly leading the defendants down the path to jihad.

The jury deliberated for eight days before reaching Monday's verdict, and according to sources there was a sense of relief at the Department of Justice when the case was decided.

The jury heard taped conversations in which ringleader James Cromitie, 44, and three other men spoke extensively about their plans as the informant, Shahed Hussain -- posing as a representative of a Pakistan-based terrorist group -- recorded the discussions. Hussain had made hundreds of hours of recordings.

Cromitie's attorney argued during the trial that Hussain entrapped the defendants and that Hussain's testimony on the stand was filled with lies.

"The bottom line is when it comes to Hussain's testimony, it's worthless. It's garbage," lawyer Vincent Briccetti told the jury. "He lied to you."

The attacks were never carried out, but prosecutors argued that was not a mitigating factor.

"The defendants thought this was real -- real bombs, real missiles," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin told the jury. He said that Cromitie was intent on committing a terrorist act and that the informant had not put that idea in his head.

Cromitie and the other defendants -- David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen -- were arrested on May 20, 2009. They were charged with conspiring to blow up the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Community Center in the New York City borough of the Bronx. They are also accused of planning to fire surface-to-air-missiles at a New York military facility.

On the tapes, Cromitie can be heard telling Hussain, "I am a soldier in America, but not for America."

One juror in the case was dismissed after she told Judge Colleen McMahon that she was uncertain if she could ignore extraneous information she saw in her transcript binder during the third day of deliberations Oct. 8.

Sentencing was set for March 24, when the defendants could face up to life in prison.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


'I Want Damage': Surveillance Video Shows Suspects in N.Y. Bomb Trial 

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The jury in a New York terrorism trial is deliberating the case of four men who were charged with plotting to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx.

The FBI arrested the men in May 2009 as they were planting bombs outside  a house of worship.  The suspects believed the bombs were real, but they were actually made with fake explosives.

The case is built on the FBI's use of an informant, Shahed Hussain, who discussed with defendants James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen how they planned to carry out attacks in New York.

Undercover videos key to the prosecution's argument reveal the defendants in precarious situations.

In one tape from April 2009, Cromitie is heard telling the informant, "You think the World Trade Center was something bad?  That was nothing.  That was like one match lit and then you blow it up.  That was nothing.  Don't worry, the worst is yet to come for you guys."

In another tape, Hussain and Cromitie are in a storage facility handling a shoulder-fired missile.  Hussain shows Cromitie how to use it, "This is the handle, OK? ... Once we shoot it, then we destroy the thing."  Cromitie responds, saying, "Easy. ... I wish you had a blank, so we could take a shot."

The prosecution claims that the plan was to use this rocket launcher against planes at an upstate New York Air National Guard Base.

Despite the videos, the outcome of the case before the jury is unclear.  During the contentious trial, defense attorneys claimed that there was entrapment by the FBI after agents inserted an informant into a mosque in Newburgh, N.Y.

Cromitie had allegedly expressed his interest in joining Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistani terrorist group that the informant was allegedly linked to.

FBI agents believe that Cromitie was the group's ringleader, and surveillance tape captures him bragging about possible attacks.

"I want it to be like, I need to be right in the middle.  You feel me?"  Cromitie said.  "I wanna just get the whole middle. ... I want damage, to let them know it's not a joke.  Damaged."

In another instance, he said, "Imagine all of those planes in one spot.  Imagine if we hit all of them. ... Then one of them would blow up.  And they [would be] close to each other, and they all got gas too."

Defense lawyers have argued that their clients were entrapped and that Hussain is not a credible witness, so the outcome of the case is unclear.

Hussain's testimony, at times, angered the judge, who called him "slippery" in front of the jury.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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