Two Queens men were charged with terrorism and hate crimes after it was revealed they planned to pose as Hasidic Jews in order to plant a bomb in a Manhattan synagogue. Ahmed Ferhani, a former cosmetics salesman at Saks Fifth Avenue, and Mohamed Mamdouh attempted to fund their terrorist escapades by selling guns and drugs, but hadn’t gotten particularly far in their scheme. Ferhani and Mamdouh were arrested Wednesday when Ferhani tried to buy handguns, silencers, a box of hand grenades, bullet-resistant vests, and a police radio from undercover officers. “Fortunately … New York City police officers were watching them and were in position to take them into custody before they could maim and murder innocent New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bloomberg in a statement.
According to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., Ferhani was “committed to violent jihad, and his plan became bigger and more violent with each passing week.” Still, authorities believe they had no ties to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist network. And those who knew the men were skeptical that either man was capable of carrying out a major terrorist attack. “There’s no way they could be terrorists. They are too stupid,” said a neighbor. “Him and his brother are always out in the street smoking pot and fighting.” The pair face a maximum sentence of life without parole if convicted.