A Bay Ridge man who was arrested at Kennedy Airport last Tuesday for allegedly sending money to terrorists in Pakistan complained that he had to leave the neighborhood because he couldn’t raise enough terror cash from Muslim-Americans there.
Agron Hasbajrami, 27, was charged with sending more than $1,000 to an extremist in Pakistan — but the arrest also included a measure of vindication for the long-smeared Bay Ridge Islamic community.
E-mails between Hasbajrami and his Pakistani contact reveal that he needed to leave this country for the notorious last home of Osama Bin Laden because he was having a difficult time collecting money from Bay Ridge Muslims once he told them that the funds were for jihad.
The indictment does not elaborate on how Hasbajrami sought out funds from local Muslims, but local leaders pointed with pride at his lack of success at generating cash for Islamic extremism.
“This is the first time that [anyone] ever admitted anything good about us,” said Zein Rimawi, a board member of Arab Muslim American Federation. “It’s very difficult to raise money here for something like that.”
Another local Arab leader, Linda Sarsour, said that it’s time for her outsiders to stop smearing her community as anti-American.
“Muslims are involved in every part of the community — from the community board to the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District,” said Sarsour, who heads the Arab-American Association of New York. “We do not have terror cells in the community.”
Rimawi said that the vindication of local Muslims should lead to an end of surveillance and spying by the NYPD, which has admitted to using CIA tactics to spy on Muslim and Arab communities.
“The police will follow someone around for a year and a half,” said Rimawi, who added that he did not think Hasbajrami was guilty.
“This is a civil rights issue. I don’t trust the police department and FBI. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
Hasbajrami pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Brooklyn Federal Court last Friday. His lawyer, Nancy Ennis, did not respond to a request for comment.
It could not be determined where he worked or what he did in his three years living in Brooklyn since he emigrated from Albania in 2008.
At some point, he told his contact that he wanted to travel to Pakistan to “marry with the girls in paradise” — jihadist code for dying as a martyr — and promised to bring money to help the cause. Later, though, he claimed it was difficult to raise cash in Brooklyn because fellow Muslims became apprehensive when they “hear it is for jihad.”
Hasbajrami had been attempting to leave the country for more than a month, officials say. He bought a ticket last month to Turkey, but canceled it. He then purchased another ticket to Turkey last Monday and was arrested at the airport the next day while carrying a tent, boots and cold-weather gear.
Authorities also said that they found a note in his apartment that read, “Do not wait for invasion, the time is martyrdom time.”
This isn’t the first time a Brooklyn man was accused of being a terrorist. A federal jury in July convicted Betim Kaziu, 23, of a similar charge, after he traveled to Cairo and tried to join terrorist groups in hopes by fighting US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to die a martyr.
And feds foiled a plot in the late 1990s to blow up Atlantic Terminal, arresting two Palestinians in their Park Slope terror pad before they could pull off their dastardly plan.