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March 12, 2015

Two Florida Brothers Plead Guilty to Terrorism Violations and Assault on Two Deputy U.S. Marshals

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Director Stacia A. Hylton of the U.S. Marshals Service, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office and members of the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) announced today that Raees Alam Qazi and his brother, Sheheryar Alam Qazi, pleaded guilty to terrorism violations and to assaulting two Deputy U.S. Marshals while in custody.

During the hearing, the Qazi brothers acknowledged that Raees Alam Qazi, the younger brother, was going to initiate an attack using a weapon of mass destruction in New York City and that he had been financially and emotionally supported by his older brother, Sheheryar Alam Qazi, who encouraged him to launch the attack.

“With today’s guilty pleas, Raees Qazi and his brother Sheheryar Qazi are being held accountable for their roles in a plot to conduct a terrorist attack using a weapon of mass destruction in New York City and their assault on two federal officers during their pretrial detention,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “This case highlights our commitment to pursue any individuals who would seek to conduct an attack on U.S. soil or to injure law enforcement officials who risk their lives to protect us. I want to thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this successful result.”

“The plot by Raees Qazi to perform a terrorist attack in New York City—and his older brother’s financial support of that plot—was intended to further Al Qa’ida’s message in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “The Qazi brothers later attacked federal law enforcement agents. As today’s guilty pleas demonstrate, we will respond by holding those who plan terrorist acts on American soil accountable. This case serves as an example of our commitment to protecting civilians from violent jihadi attacks.”

“Any attempt on the life of a law enforcement official is heinous,” said Director Hylton. “To attempt to murder two Deputy U.S. Marshals while in a federal cellblock is a total disregard for life and the entire judicial process.”

“The Qazi brothers are a great example why the FBI’s number one priority is counterterrorism,” said Special Agent in Charge Piro. “We remain committed in our steadfast efforts to detect, deter and disrupt every threat to the United States.”

Raees Alam Qazi, 22, and his brother, Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 32, were living in Oakland Park, Florida, in November 2012 when they were arrested and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives). In January 2015, a federal grand jury added additional terrorism charges and five counts of conspiracy, assault and attempted murder relating to an attack on two Deputy U.S. Marshals in April 2014 while the Qazis were in federal custody.

Raees Alam Qazi pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists in preparation for the use of a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and one count of conspiring to assault a federal employee. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the parties jointly agreed to recommend a 32-year prison sentence for Raees Qazi.

Sherheyar Alam Qazi pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists in preparation for the use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiring to assault a federal employee. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the parties jointly agree to recommend a 17-year prison sentence for Sheryheyar.

The sentencing hearing for both brothers is currently set before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom of the Southern District of Florida on June 5.

Raees Alam Qazi and Sheheryar Alam Qazi face a potential statutory maximum sentence of 35 years and 20 years, respectively.

The brothers are naturalized U.S. citizens from Pakistan.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Miami Field Office and the South Florida JTTF. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen E. Gilbert and Adam S. Fels of the Southern District of Florida, and Trial Attorney Jennifer E. Levy of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

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