Security is increased Friday, following the arrests of two homegrown terror suspects.
There is an increased police presence at landmarks like the Empire State Building, which was reportedly on the list of the men’s targets.
“Innocent” was the declaration from Ahmed Ferhani and Mahammed Mamdouh, who are charged with plotting to bomb a Manhattan synagogue and the Empire State Building.
The arrests have already prompted increased security across the city.
Police say Ferhani, from Algeria, and Mamdouh, from Morocco, resented what they saw as the mistreatment of Muslims.
“He was fed up with the way Muslims were being treated around the world,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “‘They’re treating us like dogs.’”
The two men, both from Whitestone, Queens, were arrested in a sting operation while buying guns and a grenade on Manhattan’s west side.
Prosecutors say Ferhani was the leader, and in each meeting with undercover officers, his plan had grown bigger and more violent.
Ferhani is unemployed. His parents claimed asylum when they came to this country in 1995. Mamdouh is a livery cab dispatcher who is is a naturalized citizen. He came with his family in 1999.
Mamdouh attended Flushing High School, the same city school attended by Najibullah Zazi and the men accused in his 2009 suicide plot to bomb city subways.
Police say they finally closed the trap in this case because they were afraid of losing track the suspects.
“The NYPD arrested Mr. Ferhani when he actually takes possession of the grenade and takes physical possession of the three handguns and the ammunition that accompanied them,” prosecutor Margaret Gandy said. “It is on videotape. Therefore, the evidence again, Your Honor, is overwhelming.”
The two men are being held without bail and are due back in court next week. If convicted, they could face life in prison without parole.