Skip to comments.Pakistani immigrant convicted for plot to bomb New York subway
Posted on 05/24/2006 6:37:57 PM PDT by Libloather
Pakistani convicted for plot to bomb New York subway
NEW YORK (AFP)
In this courtroom illustration, James Elshafay (C) and Shahawar Matin Siraj (R) appear August 2004 in Federal District Court in New York, before Magistrate Kiyo Matsumoto (R rear) during an arraignment on charges related to an alleged plot to bomb a New York City subway station. Standing at left are Assistant US attorneys John Nathanson (L) and Kelly Currie (2nd L). (AFP/Getty Images/File)
A Pakistani man was convicted of planning to blow up a New York subway station ahead of the Republican National Convention held before the 2004 presidential election.
Shahawar Matin Siraj, 24, could face life in prison for conspiring to plant explosives at the 34th Street subway station near Madison Square Garden, where the political gathering took place, according to the Justice Department.
Another man, James Elshafay, pleaded guilty in October 2004 to participating in the plot and later testified against Siraj.
The federal jury in Siraj's five-week trial heard hours of secretly recorded conversations between him and an Egyptian nuclear engineer who became a paid informant for the New York City Police Department, the Justice Department said in a statement.
In the calls, Siraj declared his hatred for the United States and openly discussed his desire to place explosives on various bridges and in subway stations in New York, including his plan to bomb the 34th Street station, the department said.
Siraj and Elshafay scoped out the subway station on August 21, 2004, and later drew diagrams as part of their plot, it said. They were arrested six days later, but they carried no explosive material.
"Siraj conspired to plant a bomb in one of the most active public transportation hubs in America," prosecutor Roslynn Mauskopf said in a statement.
"Thanks to the diligent work of law enforcement, the plot never developed beyond the planning stage, and the public was never at risk," she said.
Republicans and Democrats hold huge political conventions every four years to officially name their presidential candidates. President George W. Bush was nominated as the Republican candidate at the 2004 gathering.
In this surveillance photo released by the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's Office, an unidentified police informant, right, is shown with alleged bomb plotter Shahawar Matin Siraj, center, and his alleged co-conspirator James Elshafay in New York, Aug. 21, 2004. Siraj, 23, was arrested on the eve of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York on charges he wanted to attack a subway station in Herald Square, a dense shopping district in the city that includes Macy's flagship department store. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. (AP Photo/Brooklyn US Attorney's Office, HO)
NEW YORK -- A high school dropout who drew the attention of undercover police with his anti-American rants after Sept. 11 was convicted Wednesday of plotting to blow up one of Manhattan's busiest subway stations in retaliation for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
A federal jury in Brooklyn deliberated two days before convicting Shahawar Matin Siraj of conspiracy and other charges in a case that cast a spotlight on how authorities sought to monitor radical Muslims after the 2001 terrorist attacks. He faces up to life in prison.
Siraj, 23, listened to the verdict with downcast eyes.
The defense had sought to portray him as an impressionable simpleton who was lured into a phony plot by a paid informant eager to earn his keep. Prosecutors disputed that claim, arguing that even if it was not the defendant's idea to bomb a subway station, no law-abiding citizen would have gone along with it.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly issued a statement praising the conviction as "an important milestone in safeguarding New York against terrorist plotters whether homegrown or foreign."
Siraj's attorney, Martin Stolar, called such claims misleading.
"This is not somebody who is a terrorist," he told reporters outside court. "What they should worry about are sleeper cells, not Matin Siraj."
Siraj and another man suspected in the plot, James Elshafay, were arrested on the eve of the 2004 Republican National Convention carrying crude diagrams of their target -- the subway station in Herald Square, a dense shopping district that includes Macy's flagship department store. Elshafay immediately agreed to cooperate with the government.
Authorities said Siraj had no affiliation with known terrorist organizations. Instead, he caught the attention of the informant, Osama Eldawoody, and an undercover police officer with his anti-American rants at an Islamic bookstore where he worked.
Eldawoody, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Egypt, and the Bangladesh-born undercover officer both testified for the government. Eldawoody had been assigned by the New York Police Department to identify and monitor Islamic extremists in the city's Muslim neighborhoods following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The undercover officer, who testified using an alias, described being plucked straight out of the police academy in 2003 and given orders to become a "walking camera" among Muslims. He recalled a conversation on the second anniversary of the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center in which Siraj "complimented" Osama bin Laden.
"He said he was a talented brother and a great planner and that he hoped bin Laden planned something big for America," the officer said.
Inside the bookstore, Eldawoody wore a wire and chatted up Siraj. When the topic turned to the war in Iraq, the defendant recounted rumors among radicals that U.S. soldiers were sexually abusing Iraqi girls.
"That was enough for me," he said in one of a series of secretly recorded conversations played for the jury. "I'm ready to do anything. I don't care about my life."
Eldawoody, assuming the role of an accomplice, assured Siraj that any plan he concocted would have the backing of a fictitious faction called The Brotherhood. On tape, Siraj was heard musing about possibly destroying the Verrazano-Narrows and three other bridges serving Staten Island or killing Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Testifying in his own defense last week, Siraj said he never had a violent thought before he fell under the spell of the 50-year-old Eldawoody. He said the older man became a mentor and instructed him that there was a fatwa, or religious edict, permitting the killing of U.S. soldiers and law enforcement agents.
Eldawoody had himself talked about "blowing up the buildings and blowing up the Wall Street places," the defendant said. He admitted taking steps to attack the subway station, but only after the informant inflamed him by showing him photos of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
"I used to just listen to him, but I never said 'Yes, I was going to do it,' or 'no' until the Abu Ghraib thing came up," he said.
Another As*lifter of evil..
Oh, but aren't all immigrants just good people here to do the jobs Americans won't do?
Politicians who use that manner of blather should have to personall house them in their domiciles..
When will the deportation train be heading to the White House?
Maybe he'll be lodged in the Lincoln Bedroom. A press conference can be called, and Amereica, yet again, will be told "Islam is a religion of peace">
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