Religious Leaders On Edge Following Arrests In Synagogue Terror Plot
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Two Queens men remain held without bail on state terrorism charges after city law enforcement officials say they plotted to blow up a Manhattan synagogue and buy weapons from undercover officers
Ahmed Ferhani, 26, and Mohamed Mamdou, 20, both of North African descent, face life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors say they targeted Jews because they believe Muslims are being mistreated.
Investigators say the men have not been linked to any terror groups.
Their attorneys deny the men committed a crime. But prosecutors say the two were caught on wiretap conspiring to bomb synagogues and other targets.
"Ferhani also expressed interest in bombing the Empire State Building. Seven months ago, New York City undercover officers encountered Ferhani, who expressed interest in killing Jews," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
"By assigning a thousand of our best officers to counter-terrorism and intelligence duties, and by investing in hi-tech systems that improve our ability to identify and react to potentially terrorist activity, the NYPD has been able to prevent terrorists from striking our city since the attacks of 9/11," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The men were arrested in a sting Wednesday night when one of them tried to buy handguns, a grenade, and hundreds of rounds of ammo from undercover officers.
Meantime, news of the arrests has local Jewish and Muslim leaders on edge.
"We are advising synagogue's as well as other Jewish institutions to number one -- increase their vigilance. They should be aware of things that just don't look right," said David Pollack of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
"The death of bin Laden does not mean the death of terrorism. Especially when this threat is addressed to our Jewish friends. In personally have been working very hard to build a relationship with the Jewish community and this just destroys everything," said Imam Shamsi Ali of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York.
Mayor Bloomberg says no specific synagogue was targeted and the plot was only in its beginning stages.