Maximum prison sentences for 2 brothers in terror plot

Jun 11, 2015, 8:12 AM

MIAMI (AP) — A federal judge imposed the maximum possible prison sentences Thursday on two Pakistani-born brothers who admitted trying to pull off a terrorist bomb attack against New York City landmarks and later assaulted two deputy U.S. marshals while in custody.

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom compared the plot, which never got past the planning stages, to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings in which the two attackers used commonplace pressure cookers. In the Florida case, evidence shows the younger brother, 22-year-old Raees Alam Qazi, researched how to make bombs on the Internet using readily available items such as Christmas tree lights and chemicals.

“You are a terrorist. Evil in nature and evil in your deeds,” Bloom said to Raees Qazi. “You chose to engage in conduct that can only be described as evil and reprehensible.”

The judge sentenced Raees Qazi to 35 years in prison while his brother, 32-year-old Sheheryar Alam Qazi, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. Both sentences were three years above those recommended by prosecutors and defense attorneys in a March plea deal.

Sheheryar Qazi got a lesser sentence because his main role was to back his brother financially as he sought to actively plan an attack, according to court documents. Bloom said evidence shows Sheheryar Qazi was fully aware of and supported the plot.

“Your assistance allowed your brother to continue with his evil plan,” the judge said, adding that the FBI investigation and arrests “prevented what could have been a tragic loss of many lives.”

The two brothers, who lived in Broward County, Florida, were arrested there in November 2012 after Raees Qazi returned from New York by bus following a target scouting mission and possibly an aborted attack, authorities said.

Neither man said anything beyond simple one-word answers to the judge’s questions, and Sheheryar Qazi spent the hearing busily writing on a yellow legal pad with his head bowed. Their attorneys also declined comment in court and outside.

According to a factual statement signed by both brothers, Raees Qazi tried to join Islamic extremists in 2011 in Afghanistan while visiting Pakistan. When that failed, he opted to become a “lone wolf” who would plot ways of attacking the U.S. from within.

Raees Qazi told a confidential FBI informant in one meeting that he had been in contact with al-Qaida operatives and added, “the leaders know what they are talking about so when they call on Muslims in the West to stay in the West, there’s a reason for that,” according to the statement.

Both brothers were avid followers of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born radical Muslim cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, according to the statement. They were also recorded in FBI wiretaps and listening devices expressing support for al-Qaida and its former leader, Osama bin Laden, and took tips from the terror group’s Inspire magazine.

Earlier in the case, defense lawyers sought access to information about the brothers collected under the once-secret National Security Agency surveillance program revealed by one of its contractors, Edward Snowden. Prosecutors eventually agreed they had a duty to turn over the information but did not do so because they decided not to use it as evidence.

As the case was progressing, on April 6, 2014, the brothers used a ruse to distract two deputy marshals while being escorted in the Miami court complex. The marshals suffered bruises and other injuries in the attack, during which the brothers yelled “Allahu Akbar,” which is Arabic for “God is Great.”

___

Follow Curt Anderson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miamicurt

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, watches through binoculars as Russian Defense Mini...
Associated Press

What’s Putin thinking? Tough to know for nuclear analysts

PARIS (AP) — Will President Vladimir Putin pull the nuclear trigger? For Kremlin watchers trying to figure out whether the Russian leader’s nuclear threats are just bluffs, there is no more pressing — or tough — question. For now, analysts cautiously suggest that the risk of Putin using the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal still seems […]
1 day ago
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) misses a catch during the first half of an NFL fo...
Associated Press

Analysis: NFL isn’t passing the eye test on head injuries

What happened in Tampa was the last thing the NFL, its players and its fanbase needed three days after Tua Tagovailoa’s horrifying head injury called into question the league’s commitment to curbing concussions. Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate sat out the second half of Sunday night’s 41-31 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs with a […]
1 day ago
In this undated surveillance image released by the Stockton Police Department, a grainy still image...
Associated Press

Police: 6 California killings may be work of serial killer

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Ballistics tests have linked the fatal shootings of six men and the wounding of one woman in California — all potentially at the hands of a serial killer — in crimes going back more than a year, police said. Authorities last week announced that five men in Stockton had been slain […]
1 day ago
A currency trader walks by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left,...
Associated Press

Asian shares rise after ‘relief rally’ on Wall Street

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares rose Tuesday, encouraged by a rally in U.S. shares after some weak economic data raised hopes that the Federal Reserve might ease away from aggressive interest rate hikes. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 2.8% in afternoon trading to 26,959.25. South Korea’s Kospi gained 2.5% to 2,209.98. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped […]
1 day ago
FILE - Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who is running for reelection, speaks about prescriptio...
Associated Press

Both candidates courting veterans in Nevada Senate race

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Common sense more than any campaign strategy dictated that Adam Laxalt not trumpet his own military service in Nevada’s sometimes-heated Republican Senate primary. After all, the ex-attorney general, who served as a Navy judge advocate general in Iraq, was running against retired Army Capt. Sam Brown, a war hero who was […]
1 day ago
Elaine Moore stands next to a dry irrigation canal and almond orchard near her property, where two ...
Associated Press

California wells run dry as drought depletes groundwater

FAIRMEAD, Calif. (AP) — As California’s drought deepens, Elaine Moore’s family is running out of an increasingly precious resource: water. The Central Valley almond growers had two wells go dry this summer. Two of her adult children are now getting water from a new well the family drilled after the old one went dry last […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Maximum prison sentences for 2 brothers in terror plot