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Man pleads guilty to terror charges in plot to blow up NY synagogues and churches

By Rande Iaboni, CNN
updated 10:21 AM EST, Wed December 5, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ahmed Ferhani was arrested in May 2011, after an undercover operation by the NYPD
  • Following a guilty plea Tuesday, Ferhani is expected to be sentenced on January 30
  • He could face life behind bars without the possibility of parole
  • His case stemmed from a plot targeting New York synagogues and churches

New York (CNN) -- A man pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday to terror-related charges in connection with a plot targeting New York synagogues and churches, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office.

Ahmed Ferhani, 27, was arrested in May 2011, marking the end of an eight-month undercover operation by New York police officers.

According to the defendant's guilty plea and documents filed in court, between October 2010 and May 2011, Ferhani conspired to bomb synagogues and churches in Manhattan to send a message of violence to non-Muslims, including Americans, Christians, and Jews.

Ferhani pleaded guilty to multiple criminal counts of weapons possession, terrorism, conspiracy and a hate crime, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.

"Manhattan embodies everything that terrorists hate about our lives and our culture ... diversity, tolerance and opportunity," Vance said.

Calls to Ferhani's attorney were not immediately returned to CNN.

Tuesday's plea marks the first time a terrorist has been convicted on state terror charges since the New York anti-terror laws were passed shortly after September 11, 2001. Terrorism cases are typically tried in Federal court.

Ferhani is expected to be sentenced on January 30, and he could face life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

CNN's Chris Boyette contributed to this report.

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