Terror plot 311.
(photo credit: Elizabeth Williams)
The undercover investigator credited with helping stop two would-be terrorists had sought to begin his New York Police Department career like nearly everyone else — as a rookie patrolman. However when police officials learned he spoke Arabic and noticed his calm demeanor, they soon had other plans for him.
Authorities hailed the undercover officer's work following the arrest Saturday of terror suspects Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte as they prepared to fly from New York to Egypt and then to Somalia. The New Jersey men appeared briefly in federal court in Newark on Monday on charges they conspired to kill, maim and kidnap persons outside the United States by joining the Somali terror group al-Shabab.
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Alessa, 20, and Almonte, 24, had no contact with Somali terrorists
had no specific terror plot, according to officials and court documents.
undercover officer, while posing as a devout Muslim and circulating
among other men with radical leanings in the New York City area, met the
suspects in 2009 and won their trust, authorities said. He got close
enough to them to secretly record their radical rants about fighting a
holy war here and abroad.
Police officials have said the
undercover officer is in his 20s, is of Egyptian descent and joined the
department about five years ago. Capitalizing on the country's most
ethnically diverse crop of recruits, officials screen applications and
single out candidates "suited for deep undercover assignments," NYPD
spokesman Paul Browne said.
The NYPD refuses to say how many of
the undercover officers have been deployed or describe their tactics.
But the 2006 trial of Shahawar Matin Siraj, convicted of plotting to
blow up the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan, gave rare
glimpses into how the department investigates Islamic extremists.
23-year-old undercover detective using his alias, Kamil Pasha,
testified that he was drafted once the NYPD learned
he was born in Bangladesh and could speak Arabic and Urdu. He said
training lasted only a few weeks in 2002 before he got an apartment in
Brooklyn and began attending a mosque there as a "walking camera" for
his police handlers. "I was told to act like a civilian, hang out in the
neighborhood and gather information," he testified.
recounted how he met Siraj at an Islamic bookstore near the mosque. He
claimed that the defendant advocated jihad against the United States for
its support of Israel and argued that targeting both countries for
suicide bombings was justified.
Siraj declared in December 2002
that, "The mission was not complete on 9/11 because it did not hit Wall
Street," the witness said.