Not too much is known yet about this story, except that the bust appears to come from city and state officials, and not the feds. Two Americans of North African descent have been arrested, apparently on charges that they plotted a terrorist attack on at least one New York City synagogue:
Two Americans have been arrested by New York City police for allegedly plotting to attack a synagogue in the New York area, Fox News has learned.
One source described the case as the latest example of “homegrown” radicalization. The two men were identified as Mohammad Mamdouh, of Moroccan descent, and Ahmed Serhani, of Algerian descent.
Serhani allegedly made a general statement about wanting to attack a synagogue –- though no specific synagogue was mentioned, according to initial information obtained by Fox News. With a history of drug dealing, Serhani was hoping to make enough money to purchase weapons and possibly explosives for the attack, one source said.
This is the curious part:
Serhani and Mamdouh are now being charged under a New York State terrorism law. Federal authorities usually prosecute terrorism-related offenses, but they declined to do so in this case.
Andy McCarthy also found this odd, but not necessarily unprecedented:
Oddly, it is said that the feds were not interested in the case, which was apparently pursued by the Manhattan district attorney’s office after the FBI declined to get involved. I say this is odd because the FBI and the NYPD work together in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and most cases are taken federal. But the NYPD also has an intel/anti-terrorism capacity that is very robust, and the City acts independently of the feds from time-to-time, much to the dismay of the feds.
Some people don’t know that the NYPD actually has its own intelligence agency that works globally (and in conjunction with federal authorities). In fact. this appears to have caused some friction between and within those levels, as the New York Post reports today on an unrelated issue:
A top NYPD terror expert has been booted from his post after refusing an order to take federal files on Osama bin Laden from the FBI’s New York headquarters, The Post has learned. … Last week, after bin Laden was killed, [Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence] Cohen told Nicholson to bring him the FBI’s latest dossier on him. But Nicholson refused his superior’s order, citing the federal agency’s policy of not allowing such documents to leave its office.
Nicholson has extensive experience in naval intelligence, which will now be wasted as Nicholson gets shifted to normal police investigations.
The Manhattan District Attorney will release more information on these charges later today. We’ll keep an eye out for updates.