Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 07:47:35 EDT


Gee, aren't jihads marvelous? Superstitious religion sure does bring peace to the world doesn't it?


Trial Opens in NYC Subway Bomb Case

.c The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - An immigrant from Egypt testified Monday about how he arrived in the United States to look for work, but instead discovered a plot to bomb New York subways.

The key government witness was among the first called in the case against Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, 24, and Lafi Khalil, 23, both of Palestinian descent.

Police raided their apartment early July 31, just hours before a purported suicide attack planned for a busy Brooklyn subway station.

Abu Mezer and Khalil were wounded in the legs. Officers said they fired when the pair struggled and one of them "lunged" to grab a pipe bomb concealed in a knapsack.

The bomb - four metal pipes filled with black powder and wrapped with nails, bullets and a trigger device with four toggle switches - and a second device made of pipes filled with matchheads were dismantled by bomb squad experts.

U.S. District Judge Reena Raggi ruled that prosecutors could use FBI mockups to show that the larger bomb was a lethal device, but barred a videotape of a simulated device exploding.

Abdel Rahman Mosabbah, 29, had lived in the apartment only 12 days after arriving in New York from Egypt, and was outside with police when the raiders entered.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernadette Miragliotta said Mosabbah contacted police soon after Abu Mezer had shown him two pipe bombs and a letter to the U.S. State Department threatening to explode the bombs in public places unless certain demands were met.

Miragliotta did not describe the demands to jurors. Officials have said they involved the release of six Arabs imprisoned in the United States and Israel for terrorist acts.

The prosecutor said Abu Mezer called the bombs his "first message" and "second message," and exulted over news of a terrorist bombing that killed and injured several people in Jerusalem.

"Today there is a jihad (holy war) in Jerusalem, tomorrow in New York," she quoted him as telling Mosabbah.

She said Mosabbah called 911 but couldn't make himself understood in limited English. So he went several blocks to the targeted subway station and managed to convince two police officers to help.

Abu Mezer's attorney, Jan Rostal, scoffed at Mosabbah's actions, suggesting he had invented a phony "suicide bomb" scenario in hopes of collecting from a State Department "Heroes Reward Program" that offers up to $4 million for tips on terrorism.

The program is widely promoted in the Middle East - including Egypt, where Mosabbah worked as a program manager at the "Voice of the Arabs" radio station.

Rostal did not dispute Abu Mezer's passion for the Palestinian claim of "oppression" by Israel, but said it was not a crime to believe fervently in something.

"We walk around with our ingrained hatreds, we talk about them to friends and we mutter them to ourselves, but they don't make us killers," Rostal said.

The pair are charged with conspiracy to use and carry a "weapon of mass destruction," which carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

AP-NY-07-06-98 2034EDT


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