New York man accused of trying to buy explosives
NEW YORK (CNN) -- An Afghan national who was granted political asylum five years ago is in U.S. custody after allegedly seeking to purchase enough explosives to "blow up a mountain."
Sayed Abdul Malike, 43, was being held Thursday without bond and faces a bail hearing next Tuesday before a federal magistrate in Brooklyn.
Malike allegedly sought to purchase C-4, plastic explosives designed for military use, according to the criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.
A law enforcement source said Malike is suspected of being "a lone operator" with no connections to any group.
Malike also allegedly tried to buy five bullet-proof vests, night-vision goggles, a camera to be mounted on the front of his car, 50 Valium pills, and 50 sleeping pills, according to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York.
On Tuesday, Malike allegedly gave an undercover FBI agent $150 for the Valium and was thereupon arrested for unlawfully possessing a controlled substance.
He also is charged with lying to FBI agents about his alleged interest in explosives and his travels.
The Malike investigation began in late March, when a Queens store owner told the FBI that Malike had asked him how to find information to make a bomb.
A few days later, a captain of a tourist boat in Miami told the Coast Guard that Malike, during a tour around the Port of Miami, had asked him how close boats could get to bridges, which he videotaped.
FBI agents in Miami interviewed Malike, who told them he was "taking tourist photographs" and left them the tape.
The FBI let him go after confirming he was legally residing in the United States. Malike was granted political asylum in 1998, said immigration attorney Eric Levine, who has represented him during the past seven years.
Levine said Malike entered New York on a visitor's visa September 26, 1996, the same day the Taliban swept into Afghanistan's capital of Kabul, and went on to drive a cab in New York City.
Levine said Malike was married with at least two children, but he did not know the whereabouts of his family.
Last month, in New York, the Queens store owner introduced Malike to an undercover FBI agent, who told him he could sell him half a case of C-4 for $10,000.
Malike said "he was looking for enough to blow up a mountain," according to the complaint.
The agent acquired 16 packages of "dummy material" wrapped in plastic and boxed in a wooden crate to look like C-4.
At an April meeting with the agent, Malike declined to make the purchase, saying he didn't have the money or a place to store them. A month later, Malike contacted the agent to purchase only the Valium and sleeping pills.
During his interrogation by the agents, Malike "repeatedly lied" about his meetings with the undercover agent, which were recorded, his expressed interest in explosives and drugs, his trip to Florida, and "his placing of overseas calls," according to the complaint.
Malike also lied about his finances, "falsely denying he had other sources of income apart from his income as a cab driver," the complaint said.
Malike admits traveling to San Diego, Italy, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Prosecutors and the FBI say their investigation is continuing.
A court-appointed defense attorney, Heidi Cesare, declined to comment on the case.