Terror Informant Speaks to the NYPD Commish
"He deserves this. I gave him a lot of chances to back away and he never took (them)," Osama Eldawoody tells the CBS News Investigative Unit in an exclusive interview. Eldawoody was the lead informant in the Herald Square bombing case, one of only a handful of post-9/11 terror cases in the U.S. that have lead to a jury conviction. Today the man convicted in that trial, 24-year-old Matin Siraj, was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Eldawoody told CBS that after the sentence came down he was called by NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Siraj was arrested in 2004 and convicted on conspiracy charges though he was not linked to a terror group like al Qaeda nor did he have any explosives. The case hung on the undercover work of Eldawoody, a naturalized Egyptian who spent nearly two years posing as a like-minded radical Islamist. As a paid informant for the NYPD, Eldawoody spent countless hours making audio and video recordings of Siraj and an accomplice, as they discussed planting bombs on bridges around New York. But it was the Herald Square bomb plot, in subway station underneath Macy's, that went the furthest. Siraj scouted the station and drew sketches of places to plant the bombs and of escape routes.
"Thanks to the extraordinary work of law enforcement, the defendants' plot did not advance beyond the planning stage, and the public was never at risk," said United States Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf in a press release. "We remain steadfast in our commitment to stop would-be terrorists before they act, and will apply all available resources to secure the safety of our residents."
Defense attorneys argued that Siraj was not a dangerous terrorist but a "confused and misguided youngster" who was taken in by his mentor – Eldawoody, an allegation Eldawoody maintains is false.
"A lot of times he spoke with me about one of the plans, I tried to avoid it and to change the subject. I did a lot for him. I was more than fair." Eldawoody tells us.
The informant is saddened that many in the Muslim community blame him for entrapping Siraj. "I was not spying. I was there to prove that Muslims are good people, I was doing my part to protect my community," Eldawoody says.
Eldawoody feared for his life in the New York area. The NYPD relocated him to another state and regularly visits him at his new home to check on his safety.
After the verdict, Eldawoody said he was contacted by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. He said Kelly told him that the NYPD was grateful for his work and will, "support me all the way, until I am standing on solid ground." Eldawoody said he feels protected wherever he goes now and added that the NYPD is helping him find work and settle his family into a new community.