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Terror Suspect Who Wanted to Blow Up Synagogues Pleads Guilty

By Julie Shapiro | December 4, 2012 7:46pm | Updated on December 4, 2012 7:58pm
 Ahmed Ferhani appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court June 25, 2012.
Ahmed Ferhani appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court June 25, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Paul Lomax

NEW YORK — A Queens man charged with plotting to blow up synagogues and churches in Manhattan pleaded guilty to terror charges on Tuesday, officials said.

Ahmed Ferhani, 27, was arrested in 2011 after he bought guns, ammunition and a grenade in an attempt to carry out his violent plot, prosecutors said. He told undercover NYPD investigators that he wanted to set off grenades in Manhattan's biggest synagogue, prosecutors said, though the FBI reportedly declined to pursue a case against him.

Ferhani pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court Tuesday to terror charges including attempted criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal sale of a firearm, conspiracy and conspiracy as a hate crime, officials said.

"Manhattan embodies everything that terrorists hate about our lives and our culture: diversity, tolerance, and opportunity," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.

"The threat is real, and terrorism requires us to be constantly on alert. Whether targeting well-organized terror cells or lone wolves planning their own jihad, there is no margin for error because a successful terror attack will be deadly."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly released a statement praising Vance's handling of the case.

"Ferhani made clear — as our Intelligence Division detectives documented — that he intended to attack a Manhattan synagogue with a hand grenade and gunfire, for the purpose of intimidating and coercing the Jewish population of New York City," Kelly said.

Ferhani, a North African immigrant, faces 10 years in prison and possible deportation, the Manhattan DA's office said. He will be sentenced Jan. 30, 2013.