Accused Oakland Park Terrorist's Phone Conversations Can Be Used as Evidence, Feds Say
Via Broward Sheriff's Office
Oakland Park brothers Sheheryar Alam Qazi and Raees Alam Qazi are set to go on trial this year on terrorism charges, and prosecutors are planning to use secretly recorded phone calls between one of the men and his wife as evidence against them.
The defense says the phone conversations were obtained in violation of the marital confidential communications privilege and therefore shouldn't be allowed.
The Pakistani-born brothers have been charged by the FBI with conspiring to explode a weapon of mass destruction in the United States. They pleaded not guilty at a hearing in federal court in Fort Lauderdale in 2013.
The younger of the two, 22-year-old Raees, was charged by the FBI with conspiring to funnel "material support" to terrorists planning to explode a weapon of mass destruction somewhere in the United State. Raees allegedly planned to either blow himself up or detonate a bomb in New York that would cause massive casualties, according to federal prosecutors. Older brother Sheheryar, 32, financially supported Raees' alleged plot.
According to court filings, Sheheryar and his wife's phone conversations were wire-tapped between August and September of 2012. The calls include the couple discussing younger brother's lack of income for their alleged plot, where the wife -- whose name has not been made public -- told her husband that his younger brother should get a job, particularly to help pay the bills at the couple's home.
The wife complains that Raees should pay his own way, even in matters of trying to commit a terrorist act.
"Even if he is going for Jihad," one of the conversations go, via the Sun-Sentinel, "Even so, he needs to do some hard work. He should not ask others for help ... One should pay for one's own expenses."
She also apparently gave Sheheryar direction on how to encourage Raees to get off his lazy terrorist butt and get a job.
"Tell him, 'You do a job'," she says in one of the phone conversations. "Earning here is written into his destiny by God."
Apparently, not getting a job was just one of the sort of clumsy way Raees went about trying to make Jihad on America.
While scouting locations to bomb in New York, Raees apparently read an al-Qaeda online magazine article titled "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom."
Qazi also reportedly told authorities that he came to Broward to "practice" for a bombing and to build an explosive device. But the device failed.
In 2012, New Times reported that the brothers peddled an X-Box, a random assortment of videogames, and bicycles on Craigslist back in April 2010.
But the feds point to a troubled man in Raees, one who was ready to take his own life and possibly others as well in the process.
According to one phone call, Sheheryar tells his wife of a letter Raees showed him on his computer that talked about Osama bin Laden "uniting a Muslim army under one flag to wage Islamic war."
"In a way, he has given up on himself," Sheheryar tells his wife. "That is why he does not try to get ... a permanent job so that, 'I don't get too tied up with something else and forget about God's work.'"
Prosecutors point to the comments made about not getting a permanent job, and the line "God's work," as evidence that Raees was planning to do something that would harm or kill Americans. They also say that Sheheryar and his wife knew of Raees' plans to commit a terrorist act, and that Sheheryar helped him financially to do so.
The defense, meanwhile, says that the phone conversations between the couple shouldn't be allowed as evidence, citing a law that says spouses cannot be forced to testify against each other, nor can their private conversations can't be used against them.
Prosecutors argue that there are certain exceptions to that law.
A trial date for the Qazi brothers has not yet been set, but is supposed to happen this year. The brothers are facing life in federal prison if they are found guilty.
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