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Man Accused of Plotting to Bomb New York Synagogues Gets 10 Years

On Friday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus sentenced Algerian immigrant Ahmed Ferhani to 10 years in imprisonment for plotting to destroy synagogues and churches in Manhattan.

Ferhani, 28, had pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy of terrorism, weapons charges and other related crimes. He admitted to conspiring with another man Mohammed Mamdouh to blow up synagogues in Manhattan, in retaliation to his perceived mistreatment of Muslims by Jews.

However, even while pleading guilty to the charges brought against him, Ferhani, who had discussed plans with an undercover New York police detective, had told the court that he was not the kind of dangerous individuals portrayed by the authorities. He said, “The government has tried to depict me in the worst light … My spirit has not been broken, and never will be.”

The matter against his co-conspirator, Mamdouh, is still pending.

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Ferhani’s case is one of the only two brought by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance under the rarely invoked terrorism statute of the state.

The police could not establish any Ferhani or Mamdouh of having any ties to Islamist militant groups. They conspired with undercover agents, led to purchase of guns and ammunition and what they took to be a live grenade, and then arrested with the stuff in their possession.

Defense lawyers for Ferhani told the court that Ferhani suffered from mental problems and it made him an easy target of detectives eager to create and entrap. Lamis Deek, Ferhani’s lawyer said on Friday, “This was clearly a case of entrapment.”

Ferhani’s lawyers said Ferhani agreed to plead guilty because entrapment is one of the most difficult defenses to prove, and because the sentence was appropriate for a weapons case. He would be deported after his prison term concludes.

However, City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement that Ferhani had “posed a real threat” to the people of New York.

Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan District Attorney, said, “Today’s sentencing marks an important first for local law enforcement officials in New York State.”

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