NEW YORK (AP) – Two men tried to buy boots, winter coats and other gear for Taliban and al-Qaeda soldiers fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan, authorities said Thursday in announcing state-level terrorism charges.
Humayoun Nabi, 32, and Ismail Alsarabbi, 27, were busted after a two-year investigation that involved confidential informants and undercover detectives, police said.
Lawyers who represented the men at their initial court appearance this week in Queens said their clients had been manipulated by police.
“If you have to spend more than 18 months trying to get someone to send coats and shoes to the people of Afghanistan, and you have all these cops on the case, to me that sounds like entrapment,” said Ken Finkelstein, Nabi’s attorney. “If you remove the police from this, you have nothing.”
According to a criminal complaint, Nabi told a confidential informant that he hated the United States and wanted to take a stand. He told the informant he wanted to form a nonprofit where he could siphon away money for Afghan fighters. The nonprofit was not formed, police said.
“We are sitting here breathing in peace eating chicken and roasts and our brothers, they are dying,” Nabi told the informant, according to the complaint.
The two suspects believed the key to beating U.S. forces overseas was through properly outfitted Taliban soldiers, authorities said. The fighters could then kill American soldiers “and cut them into pieces,” Nabi said, according to the complaint.
Nabi, working with Alsarabbi, wanted to buy socks, shoes, coats and electronics to ship oversees to a warehouse. They met with a man set up by detectives who provided the men with sample gear, authorities said.
Their lawyers say the men were clearly innocent.
“There was nothing in the complaint about bullets, guns, rockets, grenades,” said Alsarabbi’s attorney Sean McNicholas. “They were talking about sending winter coats and boots to the people of Afghanistan.”
Nabi, who lives in Queens, is a Pakistan national who has a wife, child and good job, according to his attorney. Alsarabbi is a naturalized U.S. citizen and appeared in court with his brothers.
Federal authorities say they were aware of the NYPD investigation but chose not to prosecute it. The men were being held on state charges of conspiring to solicit aid in support of terrorist organizations.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said defendants were each ordered held on $500,000. They face seven years if convicted.
“It is important that local law enforcement do its part, in close coordination with our state and federal counterparts, in the fight against terrorism,” Brown said.
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