NYPD arrests 2 armed suspects plotting attack against Jews

A "developing threat" against the Jewish community was first uncovered by the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force on Friday.

 A NYPD officer stands guard near the Penn Station where streets have been closed following an early morning shooting in Manhattan New York, November 9, 2015.  (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
A NYPD officer stands guard near the Penn Station where streets have been closed following an early morning shooting in Manhattan New York, November 9, 2015.
(photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

Two armed individuals carrying a large hunting knife, a Glock 17 firearm and a 30-round magazine who were planning an attack against the New York Jewish community were arrested by the New York Police Department (NYPD) at Penn Station on Saturday.

A "developing threat" against the Jewish community was first uncovered by the FBI/NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force and NYPD Counterterrorism and Intelligence Bureau on Friday.

Officers began moving quickly to gather information and identify those behind the threat and early on Saturday MTA police officers spotted two armed individuals entering Penn Station.

Police sources told CNN that threats against the Jewish community had been published on Twitter on November 12 and traced on Friday to a computer at a veterinary clinic where one of the suspects worked.

One post read "Gonna ask a priest if I should become a husband or shoot up a synagogue and die," while another read "big moves being made on Friday," according to CNN.

A Nazi armband with a swastika displayed in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany (credit: Wikimedia Commons)A Nazi armband with a swastika displayed in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The suspects arrested on Saturday were also carrying a black ski mask and a Nazi armband.

New York City Council member Ari Kagan posted a screenshot of an NYPD Intelligence Alert identifying one of the suspects as Christopher Brown. According to the alert, Brown has a history of mental illness and has recently expressed interest in travelling to NYC to purchase a firearm.

The second suspect was identified as Matthew Mahrer, a 22-year-old resident of Manhattan, according to the New York Post.

NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced on Saturday that the police department is strategically deploying assets at sensitive locations across New York City as the investigation into the threat continues.

"I join all New Yorkers today in expressing my gratitude and pride for the ever-vigilant work of our NYPD women and men - who remain on-guard around-the-clock and every day to protect the peace and ensure no violence can ever come to the city and its people," said Sewell.

NY Governor Kathy Hochul stated on Sunday that authorities are continuing to monitor social media sites in order to identify threats.

"We are in contact with members of Jewish organizations and synagogues and others to let them know once again we understand the concern, the fear, hate crime is real and that the state of New York is taking every step possible to be in the business of preventing crimes and preventing instances and not just waiting to solve them in the aftermath," said Hochul.

Thwarted attack comes after New Jersey resident threatened synagogues

Earlier this month, the FBI announced that it had received a credible information of a broad threat to synagogues in New Jersey. About a week afterwards, Omar Alkattoul, an 18-year-old from Sayreville, New Jersey, was arrested for publishing the threats in a manifesto containing threats to attack a synagogue and Jewish people.

Alkattoul was charged with a count of transmitting a threat in interstate and foreign commerce, according to US Attorney for the District of New Jersey Phillip Sellinger.

“No one should be targeted for violence or with acts of hate because of how they worship,” said Sellinger. “According to the complaint, this defendant used social media to send a manifesto containing a threat to attack a synagogue based on his hatred of Jews.  Along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we acted swiftly to respond to the alleged threat. There is nothing the US Attorney’s Office takes more seriously than threats to our communities of faith and places of worship. Protection of these communities is core to this office’s mission, and this office will devote whatever resources are necessary to keep our Jewish community and all New Jersey residents safe.” 

In the manifesto, Alkattoul wrote that "the Jews promote the biggest hatred against Muslimeen even in the west. The Jews are in fact a very powerful group in the west which is why western countries today shill for them on top of the murtadeen (apostates) in Saudi Arabia and every Arab country."

"This attack was just to remind the Jews that as long as 1 Muslim remains in this world they will never live a pleasant life until the Muslims in Palestine, Syria, West Africa, and South Asia are living a pleasant life. The Jews support terror against the muslimeen and they always have," added Alkattoul.