Mayor Bloomberg explained in his opening remarks:
“Yesterday, detectives from the NYPD arrested two men who said they wanted to destroy a major synagogue in Manhattan, and then purchased several weapons and a hand grenade from an undercover officer.
“Fortunately, long before their aspirations could take hold, New York City police officers were watching them and were in a position to take them into custody, before they could maim and murder innocent New Yorkers.
Read Mayor Bloomberg’s full remarks here.
Ahmed Ferhani, 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, are charged with multiple felony counts and hate crimes carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. In the course of the investigation Mr. Ferhani expressed clear anti-Semitism and asked an undercover officer whether he would join him in a plan to bomb a synagogue.
Manhattan DA, Cyrus Vance, Jr., noted:
“The defendants plotted and took concrete steps to bomb synagogues and kill Jewish New Y orkers as an act of terrorism”
Read DA Vance’s statement here. Read the full criminal complaint providing more details here.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly described the police activities leading to the arrests and commended NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence David Cohen and his team for their outstanding work. He also commented that:
“While there are no specific plots targeting New York City in the wake of Bin Laden’s death, this latest case reminds us that we must remain vigilant every day.
Read Commissioner Kelly’s account of the investigation here.
When the news of the arrests broke this morning the JCRC called for heightened vigilance and tighter access policies in a security alert to synagogues, yeshivot and other Jewish institutions. Read the recommendations here.
Organizations wishing to apply for Nonprofit Security Grants will find more information at www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants and can reserve for the JCRC May 23rd Grants Webinar here. Find guidance and practical suggestions on how to increase the security of your Jewish institution at: www.jcrcny.org/securityresources.
The New York Police Department performed expertly and heroically to prevent what would likely have been a vicious attack on a synagogue and members of the Jewish community resulting in death and destruction. We hail their professionalism.
The JCRC-NY has emailed a Security Alert to hundreds of Jewish institutions in the metropolitan area urging the heightening of vigilance, the review of security precautions and the tightening of access systems.
Anti-semitism is a core component of militant-Jihadist ideology, and we call on the federal government to continue and increase its effective Nonprofit Security Grant Program to assist non-profits and religious institutions for target security hardening measures.
Nonprofit Security Grant Program . The US Department of Homeland Security’s 2011 Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) will be opening soon, allowing nonprofits to apply for up to $75,000 for target hardening measures such as security hardware and related training. The JCRC-NY will provide a free webinar training detailing the specifics of the grant and the application process. The webinar will be held on Monday, May 23rd, from 1:00 to 2:30 pm and is accessible from any internet capable computer. Please click http://bit.ly/JCRCNPSGWebinar to RSVP to receive login information. The JCRC-NY has hosted trainings annually and those following the JCRC-NY’s suggestions have had a high success rate. Get more information on the grants at the JCRC Security Grants website (https://www.jcrcny.org/securitygrants).
Ongoing threat. In the aftermath of the killing of Bin Laden we should remember:
- Anti-Semitism is a core component of militant-Jihadist ideology;
- Anti-Semitism is a common tool in the radicalization process;
- Jewish-affiliated targets may be preferable for less sophisticated terrorists; and
- Jewish institutions may not be priority targets, but may become secondary targets or targets of convenience.
Feel free to contact David Pollock at (firstname.lastname@example.org or 212. 983.4800, ext 132) or Dov Horwitz at (email@example.com or 212 983.4800, ext. 129) if you need more information.
NYPD SHIELD Terrorism Assessment
Open Source Assessment
January 6, 2011 Information cutoff: 4:00 PM
NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau Terrorism Threat Analysis Group
Key points. Two packages ignited shortly after being opened in two separate government buildings in Maryland. Investigators are examining two additional suspicious packages in a courthouse and a state office building in Baltimore.
The first device ignited in the mailroom of the Jeffrey Building, located in the state capital of Annapolis. A second device ignited at the state’s Department of Transportation headquarters, located in Hanover, Maryland. Two people suffered minor burn-related injuries. No claim of responsibility has been made.
Details of Incident. On Thursday, January 6, 2011, two incendiary devices concealed in packages ignited in two government office buildings in Maryland. At approximately 12:30 pm, a package addressed to Governor O’Malley ignited when it was opened in the mailroom of the Jeffrey Building located at 16 Francis Street in Annapolis. The mailroom attendant who opened the package suffered minor burns on his hands. The Jeffrey Building houses several different offices of the Maryland state government, including Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of State.
At approximately 12:45 pm, a second package of similar size and color ignited when it was opened in the mailroom of the Maryland Department of Transportation, located in Hanover, MD. The state employee who opened the package suffered minor burns, and several others were transported to medical facilities as a precautionary measure.
Both ignitions included a brief flash of fire, smoke, and an odor. Officials evacuated both buildings following the incidents. No claim of responsibility has been made regarding these incendiary devices.
Conclusions. Several factors suggest that the two devices that ignited may be linked: reports indicate that the packages were of a similar shape and color; both packages targeted government officials and buildings; and the devices ignited within approximately 15 minutes of each other. Moreover, the two devices that ignited appear to have been either poorly constructed or not intended to cause severe injury. The deliberate targeting of Maryland’s governor and state office buildings suggests that these attacks may have been motivated by anti-government sentiment.
Implications for New York City.
- New York City remains a major target for terrorist groups and individual domestic terrorists.
- Explosive and incendiary devices concealed as packages have been used in the past by international and domestic terrorists and anarchists in attacks against civilians and government personnel.
- Mailroom personnel, especially those working in government offices (JCRC comment: and Jewish organizations), should remain vigilant and keep an eye out for unusual activity and suspicious packages.
JCRC comments: Later reports indicate that the standard yellow padded envelopes had both excess postage and a fictional return address. Both are standard indicators of suspicious mail. See JCRC’s guidance on screening suspicious packages and mail here.
1. WP Editors. “Incendiary Devices at Md. Buildings.” Washington Post. January 6, 2011.
2. M. Dresser, T. Bishop, J. Bykowicz “Explosive Devices Cause Injuries At Two Maryland State Buildings; One Addressed To O’Malley.” Baltimore Sun. January 6. 2011
3. This Just In. Explosions at Maryland State Offices Injure 1. CNN. January 6, 2011.