Hate Crime or Terrorism? FBI, NYPD Disagree Over How to Handle Case

In the two weeks following the death of US public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, NYPD officials arrested two home-grown terrorist suspected of a plot to attack one of the nation’s largest synagogues (the religious and cultural center for Jewish individuals in New York City) and possibly the Empire State Building according to a recording by an undercover city police officer who had befriended the two.  NYPD is calling this a thwarted terrorist attack; however, FBI officials say the case will not hold up in court as anything other than a potential hate crime.

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While both suspects (26 year old Ahmed Ferhani and his accomplice, 20 year old Mohammed Mehdi Mamdouh) were both born outside the United States, they each came to this country while in grade school and have been raised in the United States since childhood. New York City officials say this is just another example of a growing trend of home-grown terrorists acting as “lone wolves” without affiliation with any recognized terrorist group.  FBI officials, however, say that the crime does not meet the federal statutes to prosecute under the Patriot Act.  Both men have pled not guilty and are being tried under a New York State terrorism statute that was passed following the 9/11 attacks on the city in 2001.

NYPD maintains its own terrorism task force comprised of approximately 1000 officers with the majority of them working in and around New York City.  They do, however, have officers stationed at various major cities throughout the United States working in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies.  The main task of the terrorism task force is to gather information, build cases against possible terrorists, and aid in the prosecution of individuals charged under the state statute.

The Counter Terrorism Division is charged with the formidable task of protecting one of the major cities (the the major financial center) of the United States.  The Division is broken down into the seven subunits to include:

  1. Technology and Construction
  2. Training
  3. Threat Reduction Infrastructure Protection Section (TRIPS)
  4. Chemical, Biological, Radiological,  Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Section
  5. Maritime Team
  7. Emergency Preparedness and Exercise Station

In order to serve on the Counterterrorism Task Force, individuals must be sworn police officers with the New York City police department.  The desired skills are computer proficiency, ability to understand/translate foreign languages (particularly Arabic, Farsi, Pashtu and Dari), investigative skills, Law Enforcement Training, and strong organizational skills.

Work with the New York City Police Department Counterterrorism Task Force can be very rewarding.  Individuals with the task force are part of the United States line of defense against threats both foreign and domestic.