“Hashmi lived here most of his life, and he didn’t feel he was an American.”
The trail of terror leads into the city’s very own backyard.
Neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx are spawning homegrown radicals, and some are plotting horrific acts to rival the 9/11 attacks, city and federal investigators say.
Shahwar Matin Siraj’s failed plot to blow up the Herald Square subway station in 2003 was hatched after he saw photos of prisoners abused at Abu Ghraib. His lawyer said he felt a duty as a Muslim to respond.
Brooklyn College grad Syed Hashmi’s anti-American fervor was stoked by exposure to al-Muhajiroun, a terror group whose leader voiced support for attacks in London and the U.S., those who know him say.
Hashmi, 27, was reared in Flushing but felt increasingly isolated by his devotion to an ancient culture that seemed at odds with the ideals of America, according to his friends.
Before his 2003 graduation, he invited an al-Muhajiroun speaker to the college’s Flatbush campus.
“Hashmi lived here most of his life, and he didn’t feel he was an American,” said Azeem Khan, the assistant secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North Americans in Queens. “He wasn’t afforded the opportunity to feel part of the community or have a greater relationship with the community or feel accepted.”
Hashmi was extradited two weeks ago to face charges in Manhattan of conspiring to send money and military gear to Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. His lawyer says he may have been an outspoken political activist but he has never committed a crime.
Near the bustling intersection of Brooklyn’s Atlantic and Flatbush Aves., a sign outside the Ahlul Bayt Islamic Library reads, “Islam is the Solution.”
Across the way is Al-Farooq mosque, which the feds identified as an Al Qaeda funding source in 2004.
The mosque is not far from the former home of the House of Knowledge bookstore, where the feds say Moroccan-born owner Abdulrahman Farhane, 52, talked about raising money for jihadists with a man who was a government informer.
Farhane pleaded guilty to conspiring to send money overseas and recently was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Recordings of Farhane led the FBI to a Bronx jazz musician, Tarik Shah, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to train Al Qaeda operatives in martial arts.
Shah’s radical leanings were evident in 2000, when he and others tried to use a mosque in upstate Poughkeepsie to rally members for a jihad. An armed confrontation with the leader of the mosque, Anwar Clifton Kearney, led Shah to look elsewhere.
Kearney said he was busy trying to help a struggling flock support themselves, but Shah had something else in mind.
“They were talking about jihad, and we can’t even pay our rent,” Kearney testified recently.
Well, after all, what’s important?