4 charged with planning attack on Muslims in New York

Wed 23 Jan 2019 05:34 GMT | 09:34 Local Time

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Three men and one teenager were charged with plotting to attack a Muslim enclave in upstate New York with explosive devices, Anadolu Agency cited police as saying Tuesday.

Police began an investigation into the plot in Greece, New York, after a student showed a picture to another student and said the person in the photo "looks like a school shooter."

After conducting the investigation, police discovered a plot to attack the Muslim community of Islamberg, New York.

"There was a plan to attack this community with weapons," said Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan at a news conference.

The Greece Police Department arrested Brian Colaneri, 20, Vincent Vetromile, 19, and Andrew Crysel, 18, on Saturday. All three were charged with three counts of first-degree criminal possession of a dangerous weapon and one count of fourth-degree conspiracy.

Police also arrested and charged a 16-year-old boy in connection to the plot and under a new law are trying him as an adolescent.

Police found a stockpile of 23 weapons as well as three improvised explosive devices (IED), which were found in the home of the 16-year-old.

The IEDs are currently being processed at the FBI laboratory in Virginia.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) demanded federal charges.

"Anyone accused of plotting an act of violence targeting a religious minority should face state and federal hate crime and civil rights charges commensurate with the seriousness of their alleged actions," CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher said in a news release.

Islamberg was founded in the 1980s by Mubarak Ali Gilani, a cleric originally from Pakistan, as a rural enclave for Muslims who were escaping crime and poverty that existed in urban areas. The community is comprised largely of black Muslims.

Right winged groups claim the town is a haven for extremists and terrorists, however, no evidence has shown to support the allegations.

A 2008 counter-terrorism analysis from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point concluded there is no evidence that Islamberg is a part of a network of "paramilitary training grounds."

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