Sheheryar Alam Qazi (left) and brother Raees Alam Qazi
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OAKLAND PARK, Fla.-- Booking photos of the two men accused of plotting a terrorism attack in the U.S. became available Monday.
The arrest photos show that Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 30, and Raees Alam Qazi, 20, were booked into Broward County's Main Jail on a hold for for a federal agency, the Marshals Service.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, the brother of the two men defended his younger siblings by denying their purported plans and calling the situation an apparent misunderstanding.
A federal grand jury charged the two Qazi brothers with conspiring to detonate a weapon of mass destruction and to provide material support to terrorists.
Prosecutors said the pair's plans had been under way since July 2011 and extended through Thursday when FBI agents arrested them. A three-page indictment did not list any possible American targets, but said a weapon of mass destruction was supposed to be employed "against persons and property within the United States."
Shoaib Qazi, 33, the Qazis' older brother, said his two siblings were very close in a family that emigrated from Pakistan in 2000 and includes five brothers and a sister.
He appeared crestfallen as he smoked a cigarette and spoke about his brothers outside the family's lakefront Sailboat Pointe condominium. A passerby walking his dog offered Shoaib Qazi support and said he was "sorry."
Of the arrested brothers, Sheheryar Qazi, a taxi driver, was like a father figure to the younger Raees, who until recently lived in the apartment in the 2300 block of Northwest 33rd Street.
"He just left. He didn't tell anybody," Shoaib Qazi said.
Raees Qazi, who had attended Piper High School in Sunrise, was jobless, but tried to make money by selling bicycles he'd buy at the Swap Shop. He had worked at a doughnut shop but quit because he was not allowed a prayer break.
Still, his family encouraged him to find work, his brother said.
"We don't communicate with each other. But when the time comes here, we're together. We're still family no matter what," Shoaib Qazi said.
The elder of the arrested brothers is the extended family's chief breadwinner, supporting his own small family—a wife and 1-year-old son Isaac—as well as his parents, Shoaib Qazi said.
"Sheheryar is the best one we have. Never see him doing anything wrong," he said, "He has a nice, beautiful baby."
He described his brother as a loving father who carried a baby monitor while awaiting customers' calls and played with his son in between cab rides.
"[Isaac] just started talking. He loves him to death," Shoaib Qazi said, "He was that much responsible."
The cab driver wouldn't have been able to offer financial support to terrorists as he was struggling to make ends meet for his family, Shoaib Qazi said.
He said the family would pool money together for savings that would be wired to their hometown of Landi Arbab near Peshawar. He said authorities may have mistakenly believed that the money was being funneled to terrorists.
The family savings in Pakistan amounts to approximately $4,000, Shoaib Qazi said.
A woman who identified herself as the Qazis' mother, but declined to offer her name, said the 1-year-old has been crying since his father'sarrest. In broken English, she said, "good America. Me support America. My family good."
Shoaib Qazi echoed those sentiments as he kept watch over his nephew: "A family like this with a baby like this will never do anything wrong."
Martica Albo, a neighbor, said the family moved in about three years ago. She said one of the brothers came to her aid once when she needed a ride to the doctor.
"It was a shock what happened to these guys because he was very nice," she said. "I know they were nice people and I don't know nothing else. I cannot say bad words."
The Qazi brothers are scheduled for a Dec. 7 arraignment and bond hearing. They are being held at the Broward County Main Jail and, if convicted, face up to life in federal prison on the charge of conspiring to detonate a weapon of mass destruction. The allegation that they supported terrorists carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Staff researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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