Would-be terror suspects Ahmed Ferhani (2nd L), 26, and Mohamed Mamdouh, 20 (2nd R), stand before a judge during their arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court May 12, 2011 in New York City. The men allegedly attempted to buy guns and grenades and considered a synagogue terror attack in a sting operated by the NYPD. (Photo by Louis Lanzano-Pool/Getty Images)
A man accused of plotting to bomb a New York City synagogue says he is innocent, and blames his legal troubles on being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Terror suspect Mohamed Mamdouh told the New York Daily News in a jailhouse interview published on Saturday that he had "nothing to do'' with the reputed bombing plot by his co-defendant, Ahmed Ferhani.
He told the newspaper he had no problems with Jews, or anyone else, and just had the bad luck of being around when an undercover police officer overheard Ferhani talking about blowing up buildings.
Mamdouh says Ferhani has "anger issues."
Ferhani and Mamdouh were arrested Wednesday on charges they wanted to strike a synagogue to avenge mistreatment of Muslims around the world. An undercover officer who investigated them reported that Ferhani wanted to become a martyr, and wiretap recordings caught the men calling Jews "rats" and other names.
Authorities say Ferhani, a 26-year-old Algerian immigrant, was nabbed in the sting buying guns, ammunition and an inert hand grenade. Mamdouh, a 20-year-old American citizen of Moroccan descent, was picked up a few blocks away.
The photo displayed at the news conference Thursday shows officers in NYPD jackets emerging from two unmarked cars to surround Ferhani's dark-colored sedan and arrest him.
Ferhani and Mamdouh were charged with conspiracy as a crime of terrorism, conspiracy as a hate crime and criminal weapons possession. Defense lawyers say the men deny the charges and claim they committed no crimes.