QUEENS, N.Y. (WPIX)—A young Queens man with a Pakistani background was freed on bail Monday, after the FBI accused him of sending a phony tip to its website about a terror plot.
The mother of Syed Omair Ali flew to New York from Pakistan with $20,000 cash, to help secure the bail bond for her son.
Federal prosecutors say on May 12th, Ali sent an e-mail to the FBI website, claiming to have information about a terror plot. This was just 12 days after another Pakistani, Faisal Shahzad, parked a smoking SUV in the heart of Times Square. The NYPD bomb squad managing to dismantle the explosive inside before anyone was killed.
The FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force took Ali's tip seriously enough that it launched a five-month investigation, utilizing about two dozen investigators. The task force spent about $1 million delving into Ali's claims. He pointed the finger at a couple of his associates, claiming one of them was going to Karachi, Pakistan with a large sum of money to get training at one of the terror camps.
Then, on October 14th, the FBI said Ali admitted he made the whole story up. The Feds say Ali was trying to retaliate against one of his friends, because Ali owed the man money.
Ali, a former dispatcher with Pakistani Airlines, was living with his brother, a student at Queensboro Community College, at a private house in Queens Village on Hempstead Avenue.
On Tuesday, the two brothers escorted their ailing mother from federal court in Brooklyn. When Ali saw the PIX 11 camera pointing his way, he said "You can't do that without my permission, can you?" Our response, "Oh yes, we can."
PIX 11 News then asked Ali if he made up the story to the FBI, because he was mad at his friend. Ali refused to comment and lifted a black bag to block his face.
Ali's neighbors on Hempstead Avenue in Queens were not amused.
One of them, Carlene, said "It's a shame that that's where our taxpayer money is going." She didn't want to give her last name.
Neither did Debbie, who noted: "That's not a joke. It's something very serious, you know. I hope he gets help."
When we asked if Ali should get prison time, Debbie responded, "I'm not sure of that. But he needs psychological help."
Ali faces eight years in prison, if convicted. When PIX 11 News caught up with him trying to drive away from his Queens home, we noted he was wearing a baseball cap with an NYPD logo.