Friday, October 29, 2010
Another Pakistani arrested for attempted bombing in America
Pakistan - the Gift that keeps on Giving. Farooque Ahmed, man busted in alleged Metro bomb plot, wanted to fight US overseas, FBI says
BY Kerry Wills, James Gordon Meek and Helen Kennedy
Originally Published:Thursday, October 28th 2010, 11:18 AM
New York Daily News
The FBI knew in January that the former Staten Island man busted for plotting to bomb the Washington subways was telling people he wanted to give his life to kill Americans overseas.
So they set up an elaborate plot to snare Farooque Ahmed before he could hurt anyone. He was arrested Wednesday as he made plans to leave the country for good next month.
Posing as al Qaeda terrorists in the lobby of a hotel near Dulles Airport, the FBI handed Ahmed a Koran with code words to set up future meetings slipped inside and offered him a chance to help gather information for a spectacular subway attack.
He jumped at the chance, FBI agent Charles Dayoub wrote in a search warrant affidavit unsealed Thursday.
Ahmed told the men that he thought were al Qaeda that he "wanted to fight and kill Americans in Afghanistan," Dayoub wrote.
Asked if he wanted to die a martyr, Ahmed - who had a good job in computers, a pretty British wife and a bouncing new baby - responded "of course," Dayoub wrote.
For months, the agents followed Ahmed, 34, as he beetled around Washington, industriously sketching subway stations and using his cellphone to film entrances and exits while only pretending to talk on it.
The FBI also filmed and taped Ahmed, watched his house, and in some cases, appear to have been reading his mail.
The affidavit mentions that Ahmed had "an associate" with him during some his subway casing expeditions, but does not elaborate.
Ahmed, a Pakistani-born immigrant who grew up on Staten Island and became a naturalized citizen when he was 17, was arrested Wednesday. No other arrests have been made in the case.
According to the 17-page affidavit, Ahmed was told the targets to be hit in one simultaneous attack sometime in 2011 would be the Court House, Pentagon City and Arlington Cemetery metro stops, and an unnamed downtown hotel.
Ahmed sketched diagrams and filmed the stations, and when he reported back, he "provided suggestions on where to place explosives at each location to kill the most people," Dayoub said.
In one of the surreptiously filmed meeting with the faux terrorists, Ahmed was asked to pick the best bomb delivery system from among three backpacks. He tried one on, then opined that rolling suitcases would be better, the affidavit says.
He also suggested adding the Crystal City metro stop, which is used by many Pentagon workers, to the list of targets, saying he "wanted to kill as many military personnel as possible," Dayoub wrote.
Ahmed told the FBI he had studied martial arts for four years, could handle both a gun and a knife, and could teach these skills to others.
He also offered to send $10,000 to fund the cause in increments of $1,000 to avoid detection.
The affidavit says Ahmed either bought or tried to buy firearms in 2008 and 2009. His plan was to train and then wage jihad in Pakistan or Afghanistan after visiting Mecca in Saudi Arabia next month.
The feds stressed that he never posed a threat to D.C. straphangers or US soldiers.
Much like the four men convicted this month of plotting to attack a Bronx synagogue, Ahmed never met any real terrorists.
Ahmed, who got a computer science degree from the College of Staten Island in 2003, worked for Ericsson telecommunications in Virginia. The company all but disavowed him Thursday.
"This individual is not an Ericsson employee but has been doing work for Ericsson's US operation on a contract basis," said the Swedish company's spokeswoman, Jana Mancova. "We are closely monitoring the situation and will cooperate fully with the federal investigation."
His face hidden by a long beard, mustache and glasses, Ahmed appeared briefly in federal court Wednesday and was held until a detention hearing Friday. He said he could not afford a lawyer.
Neighbors in Ashburn, Va., said Wednesday he moved there a year ago with wife Sahar Mirza and their toddler son.
Sahar Mirza is co-organizer of a Meetup.com group for mothers of new babies called Hip Muslim Moms.
"He was out back mowing the lawn over the weekend. He just seemed like a normal guy. He never talked about politics," said neighbor Barbi Shires, 43. "I'm just glad it was the FBI he did it for, not al Qaeda."
Next door neighbor, Tanya Minor, 32, who works in a doctor's office, said Ahmed "came to look at the house with a man who spoke his language, who said he helped people from New York find apartments here. They were very quiet. They always had the blinds closed."
Marc Otterback said he was on the subway when he heard his neighbor was arrested for plotting to blow up the trains. "And I was like, 'Oh my God!' I'm a defense contractor - I was the target!"
On Staten Island, a man believed to be Ahmed's brother came home to the family house in a state of confusion. "I cannot answer any questions. I just found out myself. Please give us some time. I'm sorry," he said.
Ahmed's father, identified by friends as the retired officer of a Pakistani bank, also brushed off reporters, saying, "I don't know anything."
A neighbor named Beverly who lives in the other half of their duplex said she was shocked. "They're God-fearing people, very nice people. This is unbelieveable," she said.
Peter Compagno, 60, called Ahmed's family "sweethearts."
"They're so nice. They're good-hearted people," said Compagno, who has inoperable colon cancer. "They come over and console me."
Another neighbor, Linda Ballou, 52, said they were friendly.
"The mother's a lovely woman," Ballou said. "I've never had any trouble with them. They would sit on the porch and say hello. I'm shocked. I'm shocked."
Some other neighbors called the family brusque, saying they often order kids off their front walk.
Subhail Muzaffar, former chairman of the board at the Masjid Al Noor mosque where Ahmed's father prays, called him "a very decent man" but said he knew little of his son.
"It's such a difficult situation for all Muslims each time things like this happen," Muzaffar said.
"We call this home and we want it secure," he said, adding that the mosque proudly cooperates with the FBI on community outreach. "The right education in any religion does not lead you to this path," he said.
According to the federal complaint, Ahmed began meeting with the faux terrorists in April, turning over video footage, crowd estimates and sketches of stations, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors said he pledged funds for terror attacks, offered to travel overseas and made helpful suggestions about where to plant bombs on trains to kill as many commuters as possible.
Ahmed is the second would-be terrorist from Staten Island arrested this week. Abdel Hameed Shehadeh was charged Tuesday with lying to the feds about attempts to join the Taliban.