NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ahmed Ferhani, one of the two men accused in an alleged plot to attack Jews in New York City wanted to be a star, but the spotlight found him in a way he may never have anticipated.

Ferhani was registered on “Star Now” and other sites for would-be actors and models, but when he was ready for his closeup, it wasn’t on stage, but rather in court.

Authorities said Ferhani was the alleged mastermind of the plot to obtain weapons and attack synagogues. He apparently recruited co-defendant Mohamed Mamdouh to the cause.

However, at his home in Whitestone, Queens, neighbors said Ferhani showed no signs of radicalization.

“He looks like a nice person,” said one neighbor.

When asked if Ferhani seemed radicalized or political, another neighbor, Ali Popal, told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello “no way.”

“I would never think of him like that, in that way,” he said.

Ferhani’s home is located just one block from the Garden Jewish Center and many Jews live in the neighborhood. Gloria Abramowitz said she felt “very uncomfortable.”

Suspects Ahmed Ferhani (L), 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20, stand before a judge during their arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court. (credit: Lucas Jackson-Pool/Getty Images)

“This is just a very quiet, mixed neighborhood, lot of different ethnic groups, and everybody’s happy together,” she said.

No one answered the door at Ferhani’s home on Friday. On Thursday, his father told reporters his son was a naive kid who fell under the influence of the wrong people.

The arrest of the two men came on Wednesday evening as police surrounded a car occupied by Ferhani and an undercover detective.

The last thing Ferhani said before his arrest was that he wanted to buy a carton of grenades and a gun silencer.

“He had this notion that he would go into a synagogue and put a bomb in the synagogue or a hand grenade and if he was resisted in any way, he would shoot at people and obviously the silencer would facilitate that happening,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Kelly said that Ferhani and Mamdouh were “motivated to a great extent by a pathological hatred of Jewish people.”

People familiar with the tape recordings made of Ferhami’s statements told CBS 2 he wanted to go to Pakistan for terrorist training and then go to Gaza to kill Jews.

“I don’t like the idea of killing myself to kill others, but in fighting to the death if needed…and if any Jews get in my way, I will kill them,” Ferhani allegedly stated on the tapes.

Ferhani also allegedly stated that he wanted to go “hardcore and learn how to build better bombs” to do “great damages.”

Kelly said the NYPD operation against the two men was a message for others.

“Don’t even think of a terrorist act here in New York City,” he said.

On Long Island, police were keeping close watching on synagogues and other vulnerable locations as congregants prepared for the Jewish sabbath.

“Nassau County police is on a heightened state of alert. We have both covert and visible police forces out,” police chief Frank Kirby told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Across Nassau County’s south shore, anxious communities reacted to yet another threat — allegedly driven by a hatred of Jews.

“I find it [astonishing] that Americans could have such hate towards other fellow Americans– just because their religion,” student Michael Rosenfeld said.

At the historic Temple Israel in Lawrence, Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum said he believes now is a time for Jews, Christians and Muslims to reach out to each other.

“Violence as we know leads to more violence and the time has come for rational voices from all faith groups to speak up and speak out,” he said.

Tony Aiello

Comments (13)
  1. the truth says:

    the truth will always prevails.

  2. Sonia says:

    First of all, none of you know the real story behind what’s going on, so I suggest that you stop judging people based on what you hear on the news or internet. You are NOT God so stop judging people that you have no business judging. Nobody can say they REALLY know what’s going on unless they heard it from the horse’s mouth. And how childish is that to say that people need to watch out for their families and such. Put a sock in it and shut the hell up!!

  3. nyc says:

    Don’t you love it when a criminal’s parent says “not my boy ” ,he’s loved by everyone and a good kid ! His parents had to know something was up with their child ?

  4. the transporter says:

    He’ll see how manacing his glare is when he get to Rikers, where he’ll have to fight to stay alive.

  5. Frankie Potsnpans says:

    The punk is bent out of shape because the kid Josh Schwartz punched him in the face last year on Bell Blvd and broke his nose….. He’ll never see daylight again.. The kids in the neighborhood are gonna go after his brother and cousin

    1. USA Today says:

      I heard about that fight.. Josh was like 2 years younger and gave him a beating… He’s a lowlife and he’ll get whats coming to him.

  6. Bob Fowler says:

    When looking at his menacing glare, all I can think of is Cronholio asking ‘are you threatening me’. At least his acting skills weren’t wasted.

  7. CJ says:

    Better keep an eye on the fathers and mothers of these two defendants. Kids learn how to hate from parents, especially patalogical haters like these two clowns no doubt are.

  8. Bob Fowler says:

    If he was willing to fight to the death, why didn’t he? I’m sure there was at least one Jew in the arresting party.

    Maybe he was hoping to be let into the club of terrorist?

  9. AvaGrace says:

    Typical lame young person who wants to be important but not work for it. FYI if you want to be a STAR listen to your parents, apply yourself at school and clock in to earn your keep instead of loving the bling bling!

  10. PIKE BISHOP JR. says:

    another bald headed idiot….and .now is the time for all muslims and the other cretins from mexico to start using condoms to prevent more of their spawn from coming into our world..and poisoning it..

  11. Joseph says:

    Khazarian Jews started demanding “diversity” the moment they got off the boat a century ago… and now you GOT it.

  12. Darius Gaillard says:

    I think if any cops infiltrated the mosque on 29th street between 6th
    avenue and 5th avenue ,across from the hipster Ace hotel you would
    probably find some members with the same opinion but I think they
    would be in the minority,in any event that Mosque is known as the
    Taxi Owner Mosque and in the shadow of the Empire State Bldg.

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