Ex-NYC Uber driver, 36, tried to join the Taliban and ‘kill Americans’ before he was stopped at JFK airport with $10,000 in cash, trial hears
- Prosecutors alleged that Delowar Mohammed Hossain, a 36-year-old from the Bronx, was gong to Afghanistan to join the Taliban
- He was arrested at JFK airport in 2019 with $10,000 in cash and a host of personal care items in his luggage
- Prosecutors say they have a recording of him declaring he wants to kill non-Muslim Americans
- But his defense attorney has presented Hossain as a ‘wannabe playboy’ with a ‘wild imagination’ who was flying abroad to meet girls
- Hossain faces terrorism charges and may spent decades in prison if convicted
In the opening statements of the trial which began on Wednesday, prosecutors told the Manhattan federal court that Delowar Mohammed Hossain, a 36-year-old from the Bronx, was about to board a plane to Thailand with an ultimate destination of Afghanistan and the Taliban before his plan was foiled at JFK airport in 2019.
Hossain now faces terrorism charges for ‘attempting to provide material support for acts of terrorism’ over his alleged plot to join the extremist group in Afghanistan, and could be handed decades in prison if convicted.
‘He wasn’t just any other traveler. He was on a mission to Afghanistan to join the Taliban and kill Americans and he was on his way,’ Assistant US Attorney Ben Schrier said in his opening statements.
Schrier said Hossain planned to go from Thailand to Afghanistan and he had already bought supplies to survive in the country.
Meanwhile, Hossain’s attorney presented his client as ‘wannabe playboy’ who was looking to board the flight to Thailand to pursue women while his family were left at home.
Delowar Mohammed Hossain, a 36-year-old from the Bronx, was about to board a plane to Thailand and was allegedly aiming to go to Afghanistan and the Taliban before his plan was foiled at JFK airport in 2019
Prosecutors alleged that Hossain had told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to kill non-Muslim Americans and was intending to join the Taliban
Hossain, who was born in Bangladesh before emigrating to the US and New York City, was arrested with a variety of personal care items, designer jeans and fragrances in his bag.
The defense and the prosecution traded competing theories on Hossain’s true intentions, with each suggesting the other’s tale was a cover-up story.
His attorney Andrew Dalack described Hossain as an Uber driver sick of his dead-end job and despairing of his finances and home life who was simply desperate to fly abroad and live a bachelor lifestyle.
Hossain’s bag was ‘chock full’ of lotions, creams, perfumes and designer clothing that he had intended to use to charm women when he landed according to Hossain’s attorney.
‘These are items of a wannabe playboy,’ he said.
Hossain was in possession of $10,000 when he was arrested, which Schrier said was to secure extra supplies for the Taliban when he was arrested at JFK airport in 2019
The day before he was arrested, he asked one of his accomplices — who was in fact an undercover FBI agent — to pick up some extra hair gel, condoms and lubricant before he left, hardly ‘the ingredients for a radical Islamist jihad,’ Dalack scoffed.
However, Schrier alleged that Hossain was simply buying these items as a ruse throw federal agents off his scent, and claimed the FBI had a voice recording of Hossain declaring that he wants to ‘kill non-Muslim Americans’ before he dies.
According to the New York Post, Hossain was in possession of $10,000 when he was arrested, which Schrier said was to secure extra supplies for the Taliban.
The former taxi driver had allegedly told undercover informants that his frequenting of bars and strip clubs was a method to ‘fool’ law enforcement into thinking he was a party animal who would not conduct himself as a strict Muslim and Taliban fighter should.
Hossain reportedly read al-Qaeda literature that gave instructions on bomb-making, and Schrier alleged that the ex-Uber driver wanted to carry out an attack at a NYC military installation but ultimately pulled out because he didn’t think he could kill enough people.
But Hossain’s attorney claimed that his jihadist aspirations were in fact an act and the product of Hossain’s ‘wild imagination’.
‘It was the warrior act that was the cover story,’ Dalack said.
The trial, which got underway yesterday at Manhattan federal court, is expected to continue for several weeks.