New York City authorities said two men from Queens, described as hometown radicals, were arrested late Wednesday in Manhattan after buying guns and a hand grenade during a sting operation.
The suspects have been identified as Ahmed Ferhani, an Algerian national, and Mohamed Mamdouh, an American of Moroccan descent.
The suspects are accused of trying to stockpile weapons and were planning to attack unspecified synagogues in the New York City area. The men were even going to attempt to take down the Empire State Building, authorities said.
Police said the suspects were blatantly anti-Semitic and expressed a deep hatred for people of the Jewish faith. They said Ferhani even had an interest in disguising himself as a Hasidic Jew to pull off an attack.
Ray Kelly, NYDP Commissioner, said: “By way of explanation, Ferhani said, using an expletive, that he was fed up with the way Muslims were being treated around the world.”
Authorities characterized the suspected terror plot as aspirational, not operational.
Police, who had been tracking the suspects for months, believe that the men were acting on their own and not linked to any terrorist group or cell.
Authorities said both men were in the United States legally. But Ferhani, considered the leader of the pair, was being considered for possible deportation because of a prior criminal record.
Police said Ferhani is unemployed while Mamdouh is a delivery service dispatcher.
The NYPD, fearing retaliation, has been on high alert since a U.S. raid killed Osama bin Laden earlier this month.
This appears to be the 13th suspected terror plot thwarted in New York City since the 9/11 attacks.