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New York homes raided in terrorism case

Officials had been monitoring a small group in Queens with Al Qaeda-aligned ideologies. No one is arrested, and no specific plot is believed to have been disrupted.

September 15, 2009|Josh Meyer

WASHINGTON — New York authorities raided several homes in Queens early Monday as part of an effort to dismantle a suspected cell of locally based Islamist militants, law enforcement officials said.

No one had been arrested in connection with the raids by Monday evening, a senior federal law enforcement official said.

Local and federal officials said they did not think any specific terrorist plot was disrupted by the action.

They said officials had been monitoring a small group that reportedly espoused radical ideologies aligned with Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups.

Suspicious behavior by at least some of the men in the group over the weekend prompted authorities to seek search warrants, officials said. A judge approved the warrants late Sunday for at least three homes and possibly other locations, local and federal officials said.

The raids, which took place before sunrise, may be related to ongoing surveillance of two suspected extremists in Queens.

Investigators had been monitoring the two suspects, who reportedly talked about contacts with militant groups in Pakistan and might have traveled there, according to a former anti-terrorism official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case remained open.

Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), the senior Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, was one of several lawmakers briefed on the raids.

He said in a statement Monday that authorities raided the properties in an effort to disrupt the plans of at least one suspect whose travels were being monitored by the FBI.

"He was being watched, and concern grew as he met with a group of individuals in Queens over the weekend," King said.

The raids came several hours before President Obama traveled to New York for an address on Wall Street, but authorities said the timing appeared to be a coincidence.

The action also came days before world leaders, including Obama, gather for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly.

Authorities had little to say about the searches or those connected with them. The FBI's New York spokesman, James M. Margolin, confirmed that the FBI took part but declined to provide further details.

FBI officials in Washington would not specify what threat the group might have posed.

New York police spokesman Paul Browne confirmed that agents of a joint anti-terrorism task force conducted the searches, but would not comment further.

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josh.meyer@latimes.com

Sebastian Rotella in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

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