.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

2 Arrested in Alleged NYC Subway Bomb Plot

A U.S. citizen and a Pakistani national were arrested in an alleged plot to bomb a subway station in midtown Manhattan and possibly other locations around the city, police said Saturday.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the men were not thought to be connected to al-Qaida or any other international terrorist organization, although he said they expressed hatred for America. The arrests come two days before the start of the Republican National Convention, which is drawing tens of thousands of visitors into the city.

Though there was no clear tie to the convention, authorities moved to arrest the two men before it began, two law-enforcement sources told The Associated Press.

The men had been under police surveillance and had discussed placing explosives at the Herald Square subway station and stations at 42nd and 59th streets, Kelly said. The men never obtained explosives, he said.

"It was clear that they had the intention to cause damage, to kill people," Kelly said. "They did not immediately have the means to do it."

He identified the men as Shahawar Matin Siraj, 21, a Pakistani living in Queens, and James El Shafay, 19, a U.S. citizen living on Staten Island.

Kelly said the men visited the Herald Square 34th Street station — one block from Madison Square Garden, the site of the convention — on Aug. 21.

The men were being charged with conspiracy to blow up the station, which is central to a large commercial district, including Macy's flagship department store. They were to be arraigned Saturday in federal court.

The men also scouted three police stations on Staten Island and a jail there, Kelly said. They drew maps of those sites and a map of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, he said.

"Their motive was generally hatred for America," Kelly said. He said one of the men had also made anti-Semitic statements.