Florida Maximum prison sentences for two brothers in terror plot

By Curt Anderson

AP Legal Affairs Writer

MIAMI (AP) - A federal judge imposed the maximum possible prison sentences Thursday on two Pakistani-born brothers who admitted trying to pull off a terrorist bomb attack against New York City landmarks and later assaulted two deputy U.S. marshals while in custody.

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom compared the plot, which never got past the planning stages, to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings in which the two attackers used commonplace pressure cookers. In the Florida case, evidence shows the younger brother, 22-year-old Raees Alam Qazi, researched how to make bombs on the Internet using readily available items such as Christmas tree lights and chemicals.

"You are a terrorist. Evil in nature and evil in your deeds," Bloom said to Raees Qazi. "You chose to engage in conduct that can only be described as evil and reprehensible."

The judge sentenced Raees Qazi to 35 years in prison while his brother, 32-year-old Sheheryar Alam Qazi, was sentenced to 20 years behind bars. Both sentences were three years above those recommended by prosecutors and defense attorneys in a March plea deal.

Sheheryar Qazi got a lesser sentence because his main role was to back his brother financially as he sought to actively plan an attack, according to court documents. Bloom said evidence shows Sheheryar Qazi was fully aware of and supported the plot.

The two brothers, who lived in Broward County, Florida, were arrested there in November 2012 after Raees Qazi returned from New York by bus following a target scouting mission and possibly an aborted attack, authorities said.

Neither man said anything beyond simple one-word answers to the judge's questions, and Sheheryar Qazi spent the hearing busily writing on a yellow legal pad with his head bowed. Their attorneys also declined comment in court and outside.

According to a factual statement signed by both brothers, Raees Qazi tried to join Islamic extremists in 2011 in Afghanistan while visiting Pakistan. When that failed, he opted to become a "lone wolf" who would plot ways of attacking the U.S. from within.

Raees Qazi told a confidential FBI informant in one meeting that he had been in contact with al-Qaida operatives.

Both brothers were avid followers of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born radical Muslim cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, according to the statement. They were also recorded in FBI wiretaps and listening devices expressing support for al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

Published: Fri, Jun 12, 2015

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