Manhattan federal prosecutors have charged a Bronx man with plotting to dress up in traditional Muslim clothes on Sept. 11 and threaten to detonate a fake bomb in a robbery of a check-cashing store.
Juneal “Indian” Ali and two co-conspirators decided to postpone the job because too many people were at the target store that day, according to a criminal complaint, and then one of his accomplices got cold feet and revealed the plan to police.
At a hearing late on Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate James Cott ordered Ali detained as a danger.
“I’m concerned about a second attempt,” he said. “Even with fake explosives an incident of this sort if carried out … would have been very concerning to potentially a large number of people, especially at the time it was planned for, which was not unintended I suspect.”
According to the complaint, the accomplice who turned Ali in, identified as “CC-1,” said he was recruited for the robbery at a Bruckner Boulevard money store by a third conspirator, and the three organized the heist on Sept. 10.
They planned “that on Sept. 11, 2016, the 15-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, CC-1 and Ali would drive to the Robbery Location dressed in traditional Muslim attire, display a bomb, and compel the employees … to give them cash.”
The man said on the way to the job in Ali’s car he “observed what appeared to be an explosive device made up of what looked like dynamite sticks tied together with a digital clock.”
After deciding to postpone the robbery to Sept. 13, CC-1 went to the NYPD’s 42d Precinct to report the plot. Ali was arrested when he came to pick up the informant. Dark robes, an imitation pistol, and several sticks of road flares bundled together with a voltage meter were found in his car.
In a videotaped interview, Ali said he got involved because he was “strapped for cash” and got the Muslim garb from his mother, but was planning to tell the informant he no longer wanted to do it when he was arrested.
At his court appearance, defense attorney Susan Marcus of Manhattan identified Ali as an auto-body shop owner and asked for home detention. The court officials who make bail recommendations urged residential drug treatment.
“I don’t know whose idea it was to do what,” Marcus told Cott. “Mr. Ali is certainly by no means the ringleader or organizer of this hoax.”
“This was not a one-off event,” responded Cott. “Round 2 was in the planning stages and appeared to be imminent.”
Ali is charged with conspiring and attempting to commit robbery. The other conspirators were not identified, and no one else has been publicly charged.