By Scott Hiaasen, The Miami Herald –
MIAMI — Two Pakistani brothers from Oakland Park, Fla., have been arrested on terrorism charges, accused of conspiring to deploy explosive weapons against an American target, according to a federal indictment released Friday.
The brothers, 20-year-old Raess Alam Qazi and 30-year-old Sheheryar Alam Qazi, have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. They were arrested Thursday by the FBI and remain in custody at the Broward County Jail.
Between July 2011 and Thursday, prosecutors said, the pair provided transportation, money, lodging and other aid toward a plan to use a large-scale weapon somewhere in the United States. Federal authorities would disclose few details of the ongoing investigation Friday, declining to name the target of the alleged plot, or how close the plan was to fruition.
“Any potential threat posed by these two individuals has been disrupted,” Wifredo Ferrer, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Florida, said in a statement. “Since September 11, 2001, the top priority of the Department of Justice and this U.S. Attorney’s Office has been to deter and prosecute acts of terrorism.”
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force. Investigators would not say how the terrorist plot was detected, though sources close to the investigation said Thursday’s arrests were not the result of an FBI sting.
Prosecutors said the Qazi brothers were born in Pakistan, but are both naturalized U.S. citizens.
The brothers made their first court appearance Friday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. Attorneys appointed for the brothers could not be reached for comment.
If convicted, the Qazis face a sentence of up to 15 years in prison on the material support charge, and a potential life sentence on the weapon of mass destruction charge.