As the headlines were dominated by the Boston Marathon bombing that claimed the lives of three and injured scores of participants and bystanders last month, a Fort Lauderdale cab driver is being held and charged with assisting his younger brother in the planning of a terrorist attack aimed at New York City.
Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 30, of Oakland Park, is being held in the Federal Detention Center located in downtown Miami after U.S. Magistrate Chris M. McAllen denied his request for bond last Tuesday. He and his brother were both arrested in November. His wife has been identified as an “unindicted co-conspirator” who had complete knowledge of the alleged plot.
Last December, well before the Boston bombing, a federal magistrate ordered 20 year old Raees Alam Qazi, the younger of the two brothers to be detained citing he was a flight risk and a danger to the community. At that time, the older Alam Qazi agreed to voluntary detention after his brother’s and his arrests. It wasn’t until last Tuesday that the older brother’s request for bond was denied in Federal Court.
Although it is thought that Sheheryar Alam Qazi was not going to participate in the actual attack, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Gilbert said that he “played a significant role” by financing his younger brother’s living expenses, providing his meals and purchasing a computer for him with full knowledge that he solely needed it to perform research in the capacity of the making of a bomb. As it turned out, the computer was purchased from an FBI informant.
Gilbert stated at the older brother’s bond hearing that “He paid for everything so his brother could concentrate on his plan for the attack in New York. “He fully knew what his brother was intending to do.”
There were also recordings introduced where the older Alam Qazi spoke with undercover informants as well as recordings of him speaking with his wife in reference to the alleged commencing conspiracy. His defense attorney, Ronald Chapman argued that the recordings could have been “interpreted in an innocent way.” and suggested a $20,000.00 bond for the defendant. Prior to being denied the bond, he went on to say that his client could live with his wife, son and parents, in their Sunrise home and wear an electronic ankle monitor pending trial.
Both brothers are now charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. In a parallel to the Boston bombing it was found that they are both naturalized U.S. citizens coming from a country that has been asserted to align and sympathize with terrorists. In this case, Pakistan is their country of origin. The two brothers also lived together.
If convicted of the charges, the penalty for the material-support charge is a confinement of up to 15 years in prison while the weapons charge can sustain a potential life sentence.
According to the FBI, the plot came to light when on Nov. 23, of last year Raees Qazi left South Florida with one of his friends, driving in a van to New York. Once in the city, Qazi rode a bicycle through Manhattan, gauging possible targets that included the theater district, Times Square, and the Wall Street area.
When he returned to the Fort Lauderdale area at the end of November both he and his brother were arrested in Oakland Park. During interrogation, Raees initially denied all charges, but later confessed to the bombing plot, according to Gilbert.
During a search of their home, the FBI found and seized the chemical peroxide, cords of Christmas lights, and batteries that were all taken as evidence. Gilbert said that it was believed that these materials were going to be the main ingredients to be used for a suicide bombing or possibly a remote detonation somewhere in the New York metropolitan area
The Prosecutor also said that in August 2012, in a recorded conversation, Sheheryar expressed to a FBI informant that his younger brother was “hooked up with al-Qaida.” He was also recorded labeling his brother as a “lone wolf,” comparing him to the 2010 Times Square bomber who was foiled and arrested.
He supposedly learned how to assemble the bomb by reading the al-Qaida online magazine, “Inspire.”
As mentioned above, the consequences of a guilty verdict dealing with charges such as these are very punitive. If you or someone you know or care for is facing charges of these types or any of the other Federal charges, call Mr. Cohen’s office at 954-928-0059. Mr. Cohen’s skill and experience as well as his prior work as a Federal Prosecutor can help you by providing the best possible result to the charges alleged by the prosecution.
Mr. Cohen’s practice has recently expanded and he is now a partner in the prestigious law firm of McLaughlin & Stern, LLP. Through this partnership, Mr. Cohen can now lead your defense in the New York Metropolitan area in addition to the Broward, Dade, or Palm Beach County areas as well as all other jurisdictions throughout the state of Florida
Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer rated AV by Martindale Hubbel (pre-eminent) and a “Super Lawyer” recognized as being in the top 5% of his specialized field (criminal trial law) among Florida lawyers. He is considered a specialist by the Florida Bar in his field. Mr. Cohen has tried scores of cases over his 35 year career and is a member of the Florida and New York Bars. He practices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, among other counties. He is also admitted to practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh and Second Circuit.
Mr. Cohen is also listed in the 2013 edition of “Best Lawyers in America“.