Oakland Park Brothers Plead Guilty to Terrorism Charges
Photo courtesy of BSO
Two South Florida brothers have pleaded guilty to terrorism charges stemming from their plan to blow up New York landmarks. Raees Alam Qazi, age 22, and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, age 32, both of whom once resided together in Oakland Park, have been charged with conspiring to support the al Qaeda terrorist group.
Key evidence in the case has been FBI wiretaps and other communication between the two that authorities were able to intercept. Federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend prison term of 32 years for Raees Qazi and 17 years for Sheheryar Qazi in return for their guilty pleas.
The Pakistani men stood before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom on Thursday morning and admitted to the plan as well as to traveling to the city in 2012 to scout targets. The pair also was charged with attempting to murder two U.S. marshals while being escorted out of a Miami court complex. The brothers were able to distract the guards at first, then struggled with them while screaming "God is great" in Arabic.
Raees Qazi traveled to Manhattan in November 2012 to look for potential targets that would result in multiple deaths. He rode his bike around the streets, scouting place to place, and even at one point shaved his beard in anticipation of the attacks.
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Sentencing for the brothers is scheduled for June 5. The brothers face up to 15 years for the terrorism conspiracy charges as well as additional punishment for assaulting the two marshals.
Sheheryar Alam Qazi had once worked as manager at a Dunkin' Donuts in Coconut Creek, as a parking attendant at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and as a cabdriver in the area. He is charged with providing money, lodging, property, equipment, and other support to terrorists in their quest to create a "weapon of mass destruction" that would strike in different busy New York locations.
Their plot to make explosives never made it past the infant stages, though, as investigators say they found bomb-making materials and components at the Qazi family's apartment in Oakland Park and soon arrested the pair before the plan could go any further.
The pair had been trying to build a bomb based off instructions in an al Qaeda guide, "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom." They eventually ran out of money to continue the plan before being arrested.
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