Jihadists in Florida Terror Plot Plead Guilty

Terrorist lone wolves pose a particular threat to US homeland security, since they are more difficult to apprehend than those who are part of cells. One such case is that of the Pakistani-born brothers Raees and Sheheryar Qazi who just pled guilty to charges stemming from an abortive terrorist attack in New York City along with a violent attack on two deputy marshals.

Raees Qazi’s anti-American activities date back to 2011 when he tried to enter Afghanistan to fight with Jihadists there. After failing at that, he decided to return to the US to fight from within. Raees Qazi used al-Qaida-linked websites to research ways to make bombs with common items.

He put his knowledge into action when he traveled to New York City in 2012 to plant explosives at landmarks in the city. Fortunately, he failed at this attempt. The FBI arrested both he and his brother in late 2012 upon Raaes’ return to Florida. While in federal custody, the Qazi brothers tried to murder two Deputy Marshals in April 2014 while yelling Allahu Akbar (“God is Great” in Arabic).

Facing serious charges, both men pleaded guilty in March 2015. Raees Qazi faced the greatest number of charges—one count each of:

  • Attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization
  • Conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists in preparation for the use of a weapon of mass destruction
  • Conspiring to assault a federal employee

Sherheryar Qazi pleaded guilty to the second and third charges that his brother faced. His main role was providing emotional encouragement and financial support for his brother’s terrorist efforts.

Under the terms of their plea agreement, Raees Qazi faces a 32-year federal prison sentence, while Sherheyar Zazi faces a 17-year sentence.