Alleged Synagogue Bomber Mulling Plea Offer from DA's Office, Lawyer Says
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT – A Queens man charged by the DA's office with plotting to blow up New York synagogues after the FBI reportedly declined to pursue a case against him has been offered a plea deal that would shave "significant" time off a potential 25-year sentence, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Ahmed Ferhani, 27, one of two men accused of hatching a terrorist scheme to attack synagogues, is considering the deal offered Tuesday by the Manhattan District Attorney's office, according to Ferhani's lawyer, Lamis Deek.
“The offer of jail time is substantially lower than the maximum,” Deek said, declining to elaborate on the details of the proposed agreement, except to say that it was a favorable deal for her client.
Ferhani and his co-defendant, Mohamed Mamdouh, were indicted in Manhattan Supreme Court on weapons possession, hate crime and terrorism conspiracy charges last June after a seven-month undercover police investigation.
The men face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top count, the felony weapons charge.
The District Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Prosecutors pushed ahead with the unusual state-level terrorism case, despite the fact that the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force decided not to pursue charges, Ferhani's lawyers said.
"Their desire to commit violent jihad against Jewish Americans is not only an act of terrorism, but also a hate crime," District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement last year.
In June, Ferhani’s lawyers unsuccessfully argued to dismiss the case, claiming law enforcement had entrapped their client — who they said has been institutionalized more than 20 times for mental illness — during a sting operation.
Deek admits her client purchased semi-automatic pistols, a revolver and a grenade as charged, but insisted he had no plans to use them to blow up a synagogue.
“He has a history of petty crimes,” Deek told reporters after a brief court appearance Tuesday. “But he was just looking for ways to make a quick buck.”
Deek and Ferhani's other counsel, Barbara Fink, have said that Ferhani and his co-defendant were set up by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mahattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and the NYPD over financial, personal and political ambitions.
In a previous hearing, Fink called the case a product of New York Police Department’s “unconstitutional and illegal” surveillance of Muslims.
Prosecutors have called the lawyers' accusations "outrageous," and argued that Ferhani was intent on committing "violent jihad" on Jewish Americans.
Deek said she and her client, who has yet to see the plea agreement, have to discuss the details of the plea before they make a decision about whether to accept the deal.
Deek said she is continuing to fight for more information from the DA's office related to the undercover investigation authorities pursued against Ferhani.
Ferhani is due back in court on Oct, 16.