(Dubious) terror case opens in NYC

A jazz musician and a bookstore owner? OK, could be. But this smells to us like another sleazy FBI fishing expedition in which the only “al-Qaeda” connection was the undercover federal agent. These guys may have wanted to collaborate with al-Qaeda. But is wanting to a crime? Well, Britain just convicted an Islamic cleric for thought crimes. From the Lower Hudson Valley’s Journal News, Feb. 9:

Bookstore owner denies conspiring with ex-Yonkers man to aid jihadists
NEW YORK — A Brooklyn bookstore owner was arraigned yesterday on terrorism charges in a case that began in May with the arrest of a former Yonkers man who was accused of swearing loyalty to al-Qaida.

Abdul Rahman Farhane, 52, of Brooklyn is accused of introducing Tarik Ibn Osman Shah, who lived at 78 Oak St. in Yonkers until a few weeks before his arrest, to a confidential informant posing as an al-Qaida sympathizer, federal prosecutors said.

Shah, 43, a jazz musician, was arrested along with Dr. Rafiq Sabir of Boca Raton, Fla., on May 28. Federal prosecutors said the men swore an oath to al-Qaida in front of a government agent posing as an al-Qaida recruiter. Shah is accused of offering to train terrorists in hand-to-hand combat, authorities said, and Sabir is accused of offering to go to Saudi Arabia to treat wounded al-Qaida fighters.

A third man, Mahmud Faruq Brent of Maryland, was arrested in August on related charges.

Farhane pleaded not guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to conspiring with Shah to aid jihadists in Afghanistan and Chechnya after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. He also pleaded not guilty to lying to federal agents.

“I didn’t do anything,” he said. “This is my country. I love this country. I work hard.”

His lawyer, Michael Hueston, said the main witness against Farhane was a government informant who entrapped Farhane during conversations at Farhane’s store, House of Knowledge, on Atlantic Avenue.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor Hou said testimony by al-Ansi, whom he did not name, had led to the convictions of 25 defendants on terrorism charges.

See our last post on the case, and on fear in New York City.