via Alam Qazi brothers from Oakland Park plead guilty in terrorism plot, assault on marshals – Sun Sentinel.
Two brothers from Oakland Park pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges Thursday, admitting they plotted a terrorist attack on landmarks in New York City and later assaulted two deputy U.S. Marshals while in custody.
Raees Alam Qazi, 22, and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 32, both pleaded guilty in federal court in Miami to one count of conspiring to provide support to terrorists and conspiring to assault two federal employees. The younger brother pleaded guilty to an additional charge of attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida.
The Qazi brothers, who wore beige prison scrubs and were handcuffed, shackled and under tight security in court, both said “Guilty” when asked how they wanted to plead. They said little more than “Yes, ma’am” and “No, ma’am” in response to the judge’s questions. Both men have thick beards, Sheheryar Qazi’s hair was closely shaved and the younger brother’s hair is about the same length as when he was arrested.
The brothers were arrested Nov. 29, 2012, in Broward County. Raees Qazi admitted he had spent a few days bicycling around Manhattan to scope out potential targets that would result in mass casualties, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Though Sheheryar Qazi did not know all of the precise details, he knew that his brother was actively planning to set off a bomb in Manhattan and provided emotional, financial and practical support, authorities said.
Sheheryar Qazi said in one secretly recorded conversation that his brother “had to train himself and would be a ‘lone wolf'” like the man who was caught by law enforcement attempting to set off a bomb in Times Square.
Raees Qazi told an associate that he was “on a different course for his jihad” and would not be using an assault rifle to carry out his plans. He admitted he said he would “obey” terrorist leaders who told him to stay in the U.S. and commit terrorist acts. He also advised another man to target “famous places” in Florida, according to court records.
The plot never made it past the planning stages, though investigators said they found bomb-making materials and components at the Qazi family’s apartment in Oakland Park. Investigators said the younger brother also consulted an al-Qaida article called “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”
Raees Qazi researched explosive chemicals and methods of making bombs, including ones that used Christmas tree lights, authorities said. He frequently posted online about terrorism and maintained two YouTube channels to discuss his beliefs.
The brothers were under surveillance long before they were arrested, authorities said.
The FBI said the two men began their terrorist activities in July 2011, possibly earlier. Among the evidence prosecutors planned to use at trial were secretly recorded phone calls and conversations between the brothers, cooperating undercover witnesses and family members.
Sheheryar and Raees Qazi, who have been locked up without bond since their arrests, also admitted they assaulted two federal marshals while they were being moved in April at the federal courthouse complex in downtown Miami.
Authorities said the brothers distracted the guards by simultaneously looking up and then punched and fought with the marshals while yelling out “God is Great” in Arabic.
Federal prosecutors Karen Gilbert and Adam Fels have agreed to recommend federal prison terms of 32 years for Raees Qazi and 17 years for Sheheryar Qazi.
U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom could still impose the maximum penalties of 35 years for the younger man and 20 years for the older brother when they are sentenced June 5. Both will likely be placed on supervised release for the rest of their lives after they get out of prison.
Born in Pakistan, the brothers are naturalized U.S. citizens who spent the majority of their lives in South Florida. Raees Qazi made a living by selling bicycles on Craigslist, buying and selling goods at the Swap Shop flea market and doing maintenance work at a local mosque. Sheheryar Qazi worked as a cab driver.
Naturalize them back to Pakistan.
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