Today’s news:

Whitestone bomb plotter gets decade behind bars

TimesLedger Newspapers

The Whitestone man who pleaded guilty in December to plotting attacks on New York City synagogues was sentenced to 10 years behind bars last Friday in the first conviction on state-level terrorism charges.

Ahmed Ferhani, 28, lived on 143rd Street in Queens but will spend the next decade in a state prison after his sentencing in Manhattan State Supreme Court.

“Today’s sentencing marks an important first for local law enforcement officials in New York state,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. “This defendant was convicted and sentenced under anti-terrorism laws that enabled local police and prosecutors to protect our communities from terrorist threats.”

Those laws were passed in the state Legislature in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks that shook the city in 2001, but have not before been used to convict an accused terrorist. The entire case was handled by local law enforcement because federal investigators declined to get involved.

On Dec. 4, 2012, Ferhani pleaded guilty to several terror charges, including conspiracy as a crime of terrorism and several weapon possession charges as crimes of terrorism.

The Whitestone resident was born in Algeria and moved in 1995 to the United States, where he earned an associate degree in business from Borough of Manhattan Community College and later worked as a sales associate at Saks Fifth Avenue.

But between October 2010 and his arrest in May 2011, prosecutors said Ferhani conspired to pose as a Hasidic Jew and blow up Manhattan synagogues by hiding explosives inside, according to conversations he had with an undercover officer.

Ferhani also purchased several firearms that prosecutors said he planned to use to carry out his attacks.

But Ferhani’s lawyer, Lamis Deek, contended that her client was entrapped by the undercover agent, who encouraged him to carry out the attacks.

Ferhani read a statement in court and told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus that he would use his time behind bars to strengthen his character.

Prosecutors asked for a 14-year sentence, but the judge gave Ferhani the decade sentence that was agreed to during the December plea.

Ferhani’s alleged co-conspirator, Flushing High School graduate Mohamed Mamdouh, originally from Morocco but a U.S. citizen, was also arrested and is currently awaiting trial.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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