Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Four Weird Things About Abid Naseer, the Alleged Brooklyn Terrorist

Naseer allegedly planned to attack the NYC subway system. Photo: MK Metz
A jury in Brooklyn is deliberating the case of 28-year-old Abid Naseer, accused of plotting to help Al Qaeda bomb a shopping mall and planning to attack the New York City subway syste.

Naseer, a graduate of Flushing High School in Queens, was arrested in the United Kingdom .

He plans to argue that he was only trying to find a wife on the Internet, not collaborators.

It soon becomes obvious, however, that something is "off" about Naseer.

1: Naseer (who is representing himself) constantly refers to himself in the third person .

2: He was tracked throughout his communication with at least nine different email accounts: "All owned by men posing as women," New York magazine reports.

3: He used a code in which women’s names substituted for bomb materials.

4:  During the trial, MI5 officers gave evidence "while wearing wigs and makeup to hide their identities."

Whole thing sounds a little ... odd.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Four Indicted for Kidnapping 13-Year-Olds; Brooklyn Is Totally Unaffordable; and More Briefs

- Four people have been named in a 32-count indictment in connection with the 2014 kidnapping of two 13-year-old girls in Brooklyn. [Brooklyn Eagle]

- Groups from oppressive countries and authoritarian regimes are among the candidates looking to acquire the Brooklyn Nets from a Russian oligarch.  [Sports Illustrated]

- Emotions ran high at a town hall meeting on illegal home conversions, a growing crisis in Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, and Bay Ridge. [Bensonhurst Bean]

- This map shows you how unaffordable it is to live in NYC. Brooklyn is the worst, of course. [Curbed]

- Pacific Park/Atlantic Yards’ first condo building, 550 Vanderbilt Avenue, will launch sales this summer. Prices will start roughly in the range of $550,000 and go all the way up to around $5,500,000. [Brownstoner]

- Boerum Hill resident Ethan Hawke’s movie “Maggie’s Plan” will be shooting on Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights tomorrow and Wednesday, screwing up parking as usual. [BHB]

 - Friggin' inspirational Brooklyn guy. [WYDNKBYANM]

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Monday, March 2, 2015

PERSONS OF INTEREST: The Brooklyn - Berlin Connection

Graffiti, street art, and the D.I.Y. scenes of Berlin and Brooklyn are coming together with the show PERSONS OF INTEREST.

 PERSONS OF INTEREST is a portraiture show appearing March 14 - June 15 in the street level windows of the future Urban Nation HQ in Berlin.

The organizors (Urban Nation and Brooklyn Street Art) say the "select group of important Brooklyn street artists ... represent a cross section of styles and techniques seen on walls, in doorways, and everywhere else on the streets of Brooklyn (and NYC) during the last decade and a half."

Full release here.

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Brooklyn Has More Playground Lawsuits than Any Other Borough

Claimstat map by NYC. Red dot = 5+ claims.
 New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer released a "ClaimStat Alert" on Sunday focusing on the rise in playground-related personal injury claims against the city.

Comptroller Stringer’s analysis found that from FY05-FY14, there were 577 playground-related personal injury claims filed against NYC.

Brooklyn had by far the most claims (seen on the map aabove) filed during this time period -- 209 -- dwarfing Manhattan (123), the Bronx (111), Queens (111), and Staten Island (23).

Stroud and Slope Park Playground in Brooklyn had 6 claims; Sunset Park had 5.

Claims have risen 53 percent over the last ten years, from a 45 claims in FY05 to 69 claims in FY14. The city has paid out a total of $20,644,448 over the ten year period studied.

Stringer wrotee a letter asking the Department of Parks to bring playground surfaces and equipment into a state of good repair.

Common claims include:

- Improper surfacing (including missing or defecting matting), cracked or broken surfaces, holes in the ground, and rubber mats that burn too hot in summer months.

- Insufficient maintenance and defective equipment, such as swings and slides;

- Improper playground design; and

- Protruding nails and/or debris

Full ClaimStat Alert 

Interactive map

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Crown Heights Assembly Race; Brooklyn UFT Charter School Closing; and More Brooklyn Briefs

- 'Gadfly' gets the nomination for Brooklyn Crown Heights Assembly race. [Observer]

- Citi Bike releases map of Williamsburg and Greenpoint expansion -- Nothing in Park Slope for a couple years. [Streetsblog]

- U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch with former Mayor David Dinkins, in Brooklyn. [Brooklyn Eagle]

- Controversial UFT Charter School in Brooklyn to close elementary and middle grades. [NY1]

- Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn to speak at Brooklyn Historical Society Thursday: This Thursday evening, March 5…[ BHB]

- A trustee of Brooklyn Hospital Center has taken over as temporary CEO; Dr. Becker is off to profitable work.  [Brooklyn Eagle]

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NYC OEM: Travel Advisory for Monday's Rush Hour

Photo: MK Metz
The New York City Office of Emergency Management issued a travel advisory for a "wintry mix of snow and freezing rain" through Monday morning, March 2.

The National Weather Service has also issued a Winter Weather Advisory through 7:00 a.m. Monday.

Mayor de Blasio urged everyone to be careful during the commute.  The Department of Sanitation has sent out 500 salt spreaders.

The ice and snow is expected to taper off before Monday's morning commute, but untreated roads and walkways are expected to still be slippery.

For more information see this press release from NYC.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting a Microcosm of Change Rocking Brooklyn

The good and bad aspects of changing Brooklyn were reflected at this year's Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting, held Tuesday night at Grace Church.

A nice new park, rampant development, overcrowded schools and a shrunken library were some of the topics discusssed.

BHA President Alexanda Bowie summed it up when she said, "... we are a quiet corner no longer... Change is not just coming; change is here."

BHA's Executive Director Judy Stanton is stepping down after 30 years of being the undisputed mayor of Brooklyn Heights. What the neighborhood has lost won't become apparent until after she departs this summer, when things will slowly begin falling apart.

Stanton was presented with a special award by Thirteen's Tom Stewart, who grew teary eyed as he spoke of her accomplishments -- see the Brooklyn Eagle for more on this.

Bowie presented the BHA's views on the major issues that have been rocking the Heights:

- Residential development in Brooklyn Bridge Park: "At this moment, we are not convinced that housing is needed on Pier 6."

- The height of the buildings at BBP's Pier 1: They are “larger than they should be, and ... their height contravenes agreements that were made in the community many years ago.”

- Brooklyn Public Library’s plans to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights branch:  “Cautiously optimistic.”

Overcrowding at P.S. 8: Mayor de Blasio must invest in schools “immediately -- not in 2017, 2018, 2019.”

Speaker Justin Davidson, New York magazine architecture and classical music critic, cast change in a positive light, for the most part. “Preservation is an empty pursuit if it doesn’t contribute to a vibrant city,” he said.

See here for more, and for a list of this year's award winners.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why Would Brooklyn Terrorists Want to Bomb Coney Island?

The three alleged terrorists arrested on Wednesday had back up plans to set off a bomb in Coney Island, if everything else fell through.

Why would the three young men -- Brooklynites Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30 -- want to blow up a neighborhood in their adopted borough?

Speculating here: Perhaps it has something to do with the relatively large number of Russians in Coney Island

Russia is waging an "online war" against ISIS (or ISIL), according to Aljazeera. ISIS /ISIL has released videos with threats to liberate Chechnya from Russia. Many ISIS recruits are coming from the disputed Russian territory. In fact, there's an "Islamist insurgency" there.

All three of the accused were immigrants from former Soviet republics Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

According to Mashable, one of the defendants attended college for a while at City Tech in Downtown Brooklyn, though not currently. 

This is not the first time Brooklyn has been threatened by Islamic extremists, the Brooklyn Eagle reports. In 1997, police arrested terrorists planning to detonate bombs in the Atlantic Avenue subway station.

There have been 16 known terrorist plots against New York City since September 11, 2001.

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Complete U.S. Statement on 3 Brooklyn-Based Terror Suspects Arrested Wednesday

NYPD/FBI presser about the terror aarrests. Courtesy NYPD
 Three Brooklyn residents -- Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30, were arrested early Wednesday and charged with attempting to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS (also called ISIL), or, failing that,  carrying out attacks in Coney Island aand against President Obama, police officers and FBI agents.

One was arrested at JFK.

All three were immigrants from former Soviet republics Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Below is the full statement issued Wednesday by the U.S. government:


Department of Justice Document Regarding Three Accused Terrorists from Brooklyn

Three Brooklyn, New York, Residents Charged with Attempt and Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to ISIL

Two Defendants Allegedly Planned to Travel to Syria in Order to Join ISIL;

One Defendant Arrested While Boarding a Flight to Turkey

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Earlier today, a criminal complaint was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, Akhror Saidakhmetov, and Abror Habibov with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a foreign terrorist organization. The initial appearances of Juraboev and Saidakhmetov are scheduled for later today before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York. Habibov’s initial appearance will be held later today at the U.S. Courthouse, 300 North Hogan Street, Jacksonville, Florida.

The charges were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Diego G. Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office; and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).

As alleged in the complaint, Juraboev first came to the attention of law enforcement in August 2014 after he made a posting on an Uzbek-language website that propagates ISIL’s ideology. The investigation subsequently revealed that Juraboev and Saidakhmetov devised a plan to travel to Turkey and then to Syria for the purpose of waging jihad on behalf of ISIL. Saidakhmetov, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Kazakhstan, was arrested early this morning at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey. Juraboev, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Uzbekistan, had previously purchased a plane ticket to travel from New York to Istanbul and was scheduled to leave the United States next month. Habibov, a resident of Brooklyn and a citizen of Uzbekistan, helped fund Saidakhmetov’s efforts to join ISIL.

As alleged in the complaint, Juraboev was also prepared to engage in an act of terrorism in the United States if ordered to do so by ISIL, and Saidakhmetov intended to commit such an act if unable to travel abroad to join ISIL. In the August 2014 posting on the website that propagates ISIL’s ideology, Juraboev offered to kill the President of the United States if ordered to do so by ISIL. More recently, Saidakhmetov expressed his intent to buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if thwarted in his plan to join ISIL in Syria.

“The flow of foreign fighters to Syria represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “As alleged in the complaint, two of the defendants in this case sought to travel to Syria to join ISIL but were also prepared to wage violent jihad here in the United States. A third defendant allegedly provided financial assistance and encouragement. We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them. Anyone who threatens our citizens and our allies, here or abroad, will face the full force of American justice.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which comprises a large number of federal, state, and local agencies from the region.

“The charges against Juraboev, Saidakhmetov and Habibov reflect our commitment to finding those who wish to provide material support to ISIL, as well as those committed to fighting on behalf of ISIL, either at home or abroad, and preventing them from doing so,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “The National Security Division will continue to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters and financial resources to terrorist organizations operating in Iraq and Syria. I would like to commend all those whose tireless efforts helped bring these charges.”

“As alleged, the defendants looked to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant by flying to Turkey in a vain attempt to evade detection. And one of the defendants was prepared to commit acts of terror here—in America—if he could not travel, to include killing FBI agents. The defendants violated the true tenants of their faith in pursuit of their radical, violent agenda. We rely on help from the community, the public, and religious leaders to be mindful of those who could be radicalized. We cannot do this alone,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez.

“ISIL calls on its followers to come fight for the terrorist organization in Syria,” said Police Commissioner Bratton, “and in messages to followers outside Syria, ISIL has called on them to attack police, intelligence officers, or the military in their home countries including the United States. By pledging allegiance to ISIL, these defendants allegedly conspired to fight for a designated foreign terrorist organization, either in Syria or even New York.” Commissioner Bratton commended the work of the detectives and agents of the JTTF and the guidance of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York throughout the investigation.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alexander Solomon, Douglas M. Pravda, and Amanda Hector, with assistance provided by Trial Attorney Danya Atiyeh of the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.

The Defendants:

Age: 24
Nationality: Uzbeki

Age: 19
Nationality: Kazakh

Age: 30
Nationality: Uzbeki

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 15-M-0172

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Brooklyn's Cherry King Kills Self After Secret Drug Op Discoveered in Basement; and More Brooklyn News

- Drug  operation was in the basement: Owner of family-run Maraschino cherry company in Red Hook kills himself when police come asking questions. Dell's, in bussiness 67 years, is one of the largest processors of maraschino cherries in the country. [CBS] and [Daily News]

- VIDEO: Two arrested in Bath Beach after wild Verrazano Bridge chase. [Bensonhurst Bean

- De Blasio ends informed consent requirement for dangerous Orthodox circumcision ritual. [Failed Messiah]

- Lawyer integral in LICH case opens new firm. [Brooklyn Eagle]

- Candidates vying for Michael Grimm's seat hit the campaign trail. [NY1]

- Overcrowding on NYC subways reaches all time high, makes you terribly late. [Brokelyn]

- Right-wingers not happy with Stringer's push for language help in court for immigrants. [Comments at Brooklyn Eagle]

- Cops find photos of naked toddler on Brooklyn man's phone, charged with child pornography. [Daily News]

- 104 in the shade: Soccer’s governing body should reschedule the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to avoid the stifling heat in the Gulf State during the summer months. [WSJ]

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