Pakistani immigrant goes on trial in New York subway bomb plot |

Pakistani immigrant goes on trial in New York subway bomb plot

NEW YORK – A Pakistani immigrant, angered by the war in Iraq and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, wanted to punish Americans in 2004 by bombing one of New York City’s busiest subway stations, a police informant testified Monday at a conspiracy trial.Shahawar Matin Siraj vowed to “teach these bastards a lesson,” the informant, Osama Eldawoody, told jurors on the trial’s first day in federal court in Brooklyn.In his opening statement, prosecutor Todd Harrison said Siraj considered several potential targets including the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge before settling on the Herald Square subway station, located beneath Macy’s flagship department store.”In the summer of 2004, he could barely pass a bridge or subway station without planning to place a bomb there,” Harrison said.Defense attorney Martin Stolar claimed his client was entrapped by Eldawoody while the informant was trying to infiltrate a Brooklyn mosque.The government “created a crime where none previously existed,” Stolar said.Siraj, 23, and alleged co-conspirator James Elshafay drew diagrams of the subway station before being arrested on Aug. 27, 2004, on the eve of the Republican National Convention. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said shortly after their arrests that the men never obtained explosives and had not been linked to known terrorist groups.Elshafay was expected to testify for the government as part of a plea deal.Eldawoody, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Egypt, testified that he volunteered to be an informant for New York Police Department investigators monitoring Islamic extremists to prove his patriotism following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.Eldawoody, 50, said he met Siraj at a Muslim bookstore where the defendant worked. When the conversation turned toward jihad, or religious war, Siraj asked him about making a nuclear bomb, he said.”I told him it’s very hard to find nuclear material,” he said.Siraj hoped to inflict enough economic damage to force U.S. troops out of Iraq, the witness said.In his opening, Stolar said Siraj had no interest in violence until the informant approached him with photos of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib and told him it was his duty as a Muslim to retaliate.The informant – who was being paid $400 a month by the NYPD – also convinced Siraj the plot had the backing of a fictitious group called the Brotherhood.The defendant “is not a great planner,” the lawyer said. “He is a follower who was talked into it.”Stolar said Siraj’s naiveté and ambivalence about the plot is apparent on a videotape shot by a camera planted inside the informant’s car. In the video, the lawyer said, his client tells the informant and Elshafay that before he can go forward, “I have to check with my mother.”

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