NEW YORK (Jun. 29)
The Moslem fundamentalist group arrested last week for allegedly plotting to bomb several locations throughout New York City also considered targeting the heavily Jewish diamond district in Manhattan, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
The charge was made at a detention hearing for one of the suspects, Amir Abdelgani.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin quoted a taped conversation in which Abdelgani spoke of the possibility of bombing the diamond district.
Most of the shops in the area, which is anchored by 47th Street, are owned and run by Jews, many of them Hasidim and many Israeli.
“This is the heart of Israel here in Manhattan,” Dassin quoted one alleged conspirator as saying.
“Boom, broken windows, Jews in the streets,” he quoted another as saying.
The new charges came the same day that Reuters news agency reported that El Sayyid Nosair, the Moslem activist imprisoned in connection with the 1990 murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane, will soon be indicted for helping plot the World Trade Center bombing last February.
Nosair, the suspects in the World Trade Center bombing and the suspects arrested last week are all linked to the radical Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the Egyptian cleric preaching most recently in New Jersey.
The ringleader of those arrested last week, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, visited Nosair in prison on May 21.
Ali’s group was charged with plotting to bomb the United Nations headquarters, FBI headquarters in Manhattan, and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, which connect New York City with New Jersey.
‘HATEFUL’ TERRORIST AGENDA
Investigators also said the group had an assassination list that included U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) and New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
Prosecutors added there was evidence that the group planned to blast the area before the end of the month, when rent on the “safe house,” where the bombs were allegedly constructed, was due to expire.
Early last Thursday, FBI agents raided the fundamentalist’s bomb factory and arrested five suspects who were in the process of mixing deadly chemicals, which would allegedly be used in the bombs. Agents also arrested three others in the New York area.
Lloyd Jaffe, spokesman for Manhattan’s Diamond Dealers Club, said New York’s diamond district “has a history of being one of the most secure areas in the city,” but there is some talk now about beefing up security in some areas.
In a statement Tuesday, Lester Pollack, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, “Terrorism against any individual or institution is abhorrent to us.”
He added that the prosecutors’ finding regarding the plot on the diamond district “underscores the hateful nature of the terrorists’ agenda, which goes beyond the political to the personal.”