Top Charge Gone From Synagogue Bomb Plot Case


ahmed-ferhani-and-mohamed-mamdouhThe top charge has been dropped against two men accused of plotting to blow up synagogues in New York City. Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges including criminal possession of a weapon as a terror crime.

But a grand jury evidently rejected the initial top charge against them, conspiracy as a terror crime. It carried the potential for life in prison.

The top charge now carries up to 32 years if they’re convicted.

The two were arrested last month, suspected in a scheme to dress as Hasidic Jews to blow up city synagogues.

Police say Ferhani also fantasized about blowing up a Queen’s church and the Empire State Building.

“The truth here is that my client has a significant psychiatric problem,” Elizabeth Fink, Ferhani’s attorney.
Fink says authorities knew he’d repeatedly been institutionalized for psychiatric problems and calls the case “bogus.”

Ferhani’s attorney says the initial arrest was made to look huge but the feds wouldn’t take the case.

“When the mayor decided to have a press conference, when [Ray] Kelly decided to have a press conference, they were being charged with highest level of terrorism,” said Fink. “The indictment is now for the fourth degree, not the first degree.”

“The charges have dropped a significant level in this case,” Mamdouh’s lawyer, Aaron Mysliwiec, said in court.

But the Manhattan district attorney says the men’s intentions amounted to an act of terrorism.

“A picture emerges from today’s indictment that describes how the defendants plotted to bomb synagogues in Manhattan in an effort to contribute to what they referred to as ‘the cause,”‘ District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement. “Their desire to commit violent jihad against Jewish Americans is not only an act of terrorism, but also a hate crime. Any threats to the safety of New Yorkers will be addressed swiftly and aggressively by this office and our partners in the NYPD.”

The defendants remain held without bail and are due back in court Sept. 20.

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