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Two Charged With Plot To Bomb New York City Synagogue

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the suspects bought weapons and a hand grenade
NEW YORK -- Two U.S. immigrants from North Africa have been arrested in New York and charged with plotting to blow up a synagogue with the aim of killing Jewish people.

At a May 12 press conference to announce the charges, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said 26-year-old Ahmed Ferhani from Morocco and 20-year-old Mohamed Mamdouh from Algeria conspired to blow up a synagogue with explosive devices.

"Yesterday [May 11], 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," Bloomberg said.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the initial investigation did not indicate any connection between the accused plotters and Al-Qaeda.

"We established no direct ties between them and Al-Qaeda or other operational terrorist groups. Ferhani and Mamdouh were lone wolves," Kelly said.

'Lone Wolves'

Mayor Bloomberg said such "lone wolves" are of particular concern to authorities because their intentions and movements are hard to track or predict.

"We are concerned about 'lone wolves' acting against New York City in the wake of the killing of bin Laden. And that's why the case before us today is so important."

There have been at least 13 cases of terrorists acting alone in New York since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The charges against the last two failed plotters come a little over a year after Faisal Shahzad, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin, failed in his attempt to detonate a crude explosive device near Times Square in New York, the country's largest city.

The indictment says the two men complained to undercover officers about how Muslims are treated in the United States and said that they were ready to die in jihad.

New York City law enforcement authorities have been on heightened terrorism alert since the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by American commandos in Pakistan on May 2.

If convicted on terrorism charges, the two men could be sentenced to life in prison.