- Title: USA: New York City subway bomb plotter gets 30 years in prison
- Date: 9th January 2007
- Summary: VARIOUS OF COURTROOM SKETCHES OF SIRAJ
- Embargoed: 24th January 2007 12:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA85HNUC21V8L6GJWSX87B3DP4
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: A Pakistani immigrant convicted of plotting to set off a bomb in New York City's Herald Square subway station was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Monday (January 08).
A jury found Shahawar Matin Siraj guilty in May (2006) of scheming to blow up the midtown Manhattan station, below a thriving shopping district that includes Macy's department store and just a block from the Empire State Building.
"The crimes committed here had the potential, if not thwarted, to wreak havoc," said U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon.
Prosecutors argued in the five-week trial that Siraj had the will to carry out the plot because of his extremist views. The prosecution case was strengthened by the testimony of a co-conspirator who pleaded guilty and an undercover police officer who said Siraj openly supported al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
"The conspiracy did happen and I take the responsibility," Siraj told the court. "I wish I could take these words back but it cannot happen."
Lawyers for Siraj, who was never affiliated with any key extremist groups, argued he was entrapped by a police informant, Egyptian Osama Eldawoody, who misused his surveillance powers.
Eldawoody, 50, met Siraj in Brooklyn in 2003 in an Islamic bookstore while on a contract job infiltrating mosques for the New York Police Department.
A year later, Eldawoody secretly recorded conversations with Siraj in which he spoke about bombing the Herald Square station and several New York City bridges, and said he was "ready for jihad," according to the criminal complaint.
One of Siraj's lawyers, Martin R. Stolar said his sentence did not match the crime. Said Stolar, "It makes him a symbol of the war on terror rather than the sentencing of an individual human being. It's unfortunate that the New York City police department created a crime, in order to solve it and claim a victory for the war on terror. The sentence of 30 years is draconian, totally draconian."
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, the city's police had lobbied for increased surveillance of mosques, believing they sheltered Islamist militants. A 2003 decision by a federal judge granted the city's police expanded surveillance powers
Siraj's lawyers said the 24-year-old will have to serve 85 percent of his 30-year sentence before being deported to Pakistan.
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