Two Queens men, Ahmed Ferhani and Mohammed Mamdou, who were planning to bomb synagogues in Manhattan, were brought to court on Thursday afternoon. They are on trial today in the State Court, charged with terrorism and hate-crime conspiracy.
Ferhani, 26, is from Algeria and Mamdouh, 20, is an American citizen of Moroccan descent. They were arrested Tuesday night in a police sting operation as they were allegedly purchasing weapons with drugs. One of the suspects confessed to the plot to kill Jews.
Ferhani worked at Saks Fifth Avenue as a cosmetics salesman and was on police radar for some time. Mamdouh worked as a taxi dispatcher. Both had weapons in their possession already and were arrested last year for robbery. With a narcotics criminal record, Ferhani was trying to sell drugs to fund the weapons. Their plot thickened from terrorizing synagogues to bombing the Empire State Building.
Ferhani is the supposed ringleader of the terrorist conspiracy to destroy a major synagogue in Manhattan. However, Ferhani and Mamdouh are Islamist extremists, unconnected to a formal group. Since the plot is localized, Ferhani and Mamdouh are being charged under state terrorism laws. If convicted, they face the potential penalty of life in prison.