-- Man Pleads Guilty to Terrorist Bomb Plot
F O R T L A U D E R D A L E, Fla., Aug. 8 — A young Pakistani man pleadedguilty today to conspiring to carry out a terrorist plot to bombpower stations, a National Guard armory and local Jewishbusinesses.
Imran Mandhai, 19, faces between five and 20 years in prisonafter pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to damage anddestroy property by means of fire and explosives.
Mandhai is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District JudgeWilliam Dimitrouleas on Oct. 17.
His co-conspirator, Shueyb Mossa Jokhan, pleaded guilty on July25 to the same charge. Jokhan, a naturalized U.S. citizen fromTrinidad, told the judge that he and the Pakistani immigrantscouted targets in Broward and Miami-Dade counties in pursuit oftheir jihad, or holy war.
The U.S. attorney's office said today that Mandhai admittedto conspiring with Jokhan to bomb power stations and a NationalGuard armory. He said the attacks were to be followed with a listof demands for the United States government and other governmentsaround the world.
Authorities said the two men also wanted to obtain AK-47 typeassault weapons for their jihad training and operations. They alsowanted to win the release from custody of an individual describedas a "mujahideen" fighter committed to their jihad.
Both men face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Mandhai and Jokhan had discussed the bombing of power stationsin Pembroke Pines, Dania Beach and Miami Lakes, and near MiamiInternational Airport in meetings recorded by an informant in April2001, prosecutors said.
They also planned attacks on the Israeli consulate in Miami,Jewish-owned businesses in Weston, and Jewish Community Centers inAventura and Broward County, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Slomansaid at a May hearing.
"Jokhan even mentioned Mount Rushmore," Sloman said.
They hoped the bombings would create chaos and they could makevarious demands, including no help for Israel, freedom for allMuslims in U.S. jails and an American withdrawal from the MiddleEast, prosecutors said.
Sloman and Leonard Fenn, Mandhai's court-appointed lawyer, didnot immediately return phone calls.
— The Associated Press
Jewish Charities Complain About High Rate Terrorism Insurance
M I A M I, Aug. 8 — Jewish charities around the country say theirinsurance premiums are climbing out of sight because of fears ofterrorist attacks on their buildings, forcing them to cut programsfor children, the elderly and the poor.
"The word `Jewish' is an unwelcome word in the world ofinsurance today," said Mike Scheinblum, who volunteers as riskmanager for the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, which raises moneyfor dozens of Miami Jewish agencies. He called the premiumincreases for Jewish groups "passive discrimination."
In some cases, Jewish organizations have reported that premiumsfor property insurance have doubled since Sept. 11.
Some insurance companies are no longer offering terrorismcoverage as part of their overall property insurance policies, orthey are offering it at prohibitive rates.
As a result, some Jewish organizations are going withoutterrorism coverage, leaving themselves open to financial ruin iftheir buildings or employees are attacked.
"It would bankrupt a nonprofit to have terrorism insurance,"said Lewis Stolzenberg, executive director of the Jewish CommunityCenter of New York City's Staten Island. The agency is facing anoverall insurance increase of 50 percent to $500,000 and has had toeliminate a shuttle service for senior citizens.
The higher premiums are in addition to the tens of thousands ofdollars that some Jewish charities are spending on security,including 24-hour guards and surveillance equipment.
Insurance industry representatives deny Jewish groups are beingsingled out. They say other businesses and nonprofit groups arealso seeing their premiums rise, too, because of the danger ofterrorism.
"I do not think that it's directed against Jewish risks inparticular," said Vera Inman of Seitlin, a firm that representsFlorida insurance providers.
Tami Torres, a spokeswoman for the Florida Insurance Department,said that state regulators are unaware of any price gouging andthat the insurance market is tight all over in Florida.
Gary Bomzer of the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Centerin Miami said he has had to cut back on after-school programs forchildren and services for the elderly because the center's propertyinsurance premiums doubled this year to $274,000 — and that iswithout the terrorism coverage that used to be part of the policy.
"I have a 104-year-old man who comes in for a free hot lunchevery day," said Bomzer, whose agency helps over 5,000 people eachyear. "Where is he supposed to go?" He added: "Every extra pennypaid out to an insurance company means I can't help a family whosechild has Down syndrome."
John Fishel, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater LosAngeles, the country's second-largest federation after New York's,predicted his agency's premium will go up as much as 50 percent,and the policy will probably not include terrorism coverage.
"The cost of coverage was dramatically impacted by 9/11," hesaid.
Ed Rosen, director of the Dave & Mary Alper Jewish CommunityCenter in Miami, said premiums went up $110,000 this year, forcinghim to lay off staff and cut programs. The agency runs a summer daycamp for 600 children, a camp for needy children, an athleticprogram, and services for the elderly.
In Congress, the House and Senate have passed plans that wouldsubsidize terrorism insurance. But legislators have yet toreconcile the two versions, despite appeals from business andnonprofit groups.
Jewish and consumer groups complain that in cases whereterrorism coverage is still available, the policies are inadequate. "They come with a whole host of exclusions — such asbiological, radiological and chemical attacks — the very types ofattacks our leaders have warned us to be on the lookout for," saidMarty DePoy of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism.
—The Associated Press
Experts: Sept. 11. Anniversary Could Cause Mass Depression
N E W Y O R K, Aug. 8 — Sept. 11, 2001, is a day manyAmericans would strike from their collective memory if theycould. But, psychologically speaking, they may not have thatchoice.
As the anniversary of the attacks that killed about 3,000people approaches, many Americans are having nightmares,flashbacks, tearful outbursts and needless quarrels as theirminds subconsciously dredge up the horror of that day,psychologists say.
The terms "anniversary reaction" and "grievers' firsts"refer to time cues that re-trigger feelings surrounding atraumatic event. The cue can be anything from the season of theyear the trauma occurred, to a specific day, date or hour.
The anniversary of the terror attacks that destroyed theWorld Trade Center's twin towers and part of the Pentagonpresents a danger of throwing New York, the entire nation andeven other parts of the world into emotional turmoil.
"There could be mass depression," said Dr. MichaelNuccitelli, of SLS Health psychiatric facility in Brewster, NewYork, whose patients include families of the World Trade Centervictims.
"We are going to experience grief as a nation — parallelto the fact that there was mass shock. As a nation, we couldn'tbelieve it happened," he said.
On that clear September morning, Dr. Alan Hilfer wasdriving on the West Side Highway to work at Maimonides Hospitalin Brooklyn when he had "the great misfortune," as he put it,to see the first hijacked jetliner smash into one of New York'smost prominent landmarks at 8:46 a.m.
"It was a beautiful day and the sun roof was open," thepsychologist said. "I heard a plane flying very low over myhead and then what I thought was a sonic boom. I looked up andsaw the World Trade Center explode. Other drivers and I pulledover and just stood and watched the paper floating down. I canstill see it. It will be burned in my mind forever."
He was already driving away when the second hijackedairliner struck the other 110-story tower about 20 minuteslater.
He said the experience changed him.
"I will never, ever, be as complacent or unaware or takefor granted the things I did before," said Hilfer, who not onlyhad to help patients, but handle his own grief as well.
"My colleagues and I used to meet informally and privatelyfor discussions, but those meetings have tapered off," Hilfersaid. "In general, I've been so amazed by people's courage,kindness, and resilience that it has re-energized me."
Many people dread reliving the day and some are findingthey can no longer put off seeking professional guidance.
"A mother who lost her daughter in the World Trade Centercalled me in tears. She is already anticipating theanniversary," said Anie Kalayjian, visiting professor ofpsychology at Fordham University. "Her nightmares areincreasing, she's having flashbacks and her work is beingaffected."
Kalayjian has been researching the psychological effects ofthe terror attacks on students, mental health workers andcorporate employees who worked in the area.
She believes the strong emotional response is involuntary,but may be prevented proactively with support groups,anniversary gatherings and memorials to help process feelings.
The Journal of the American Medical Association, in itsAug. 7 issue, cited a new Web-based National Study ofAmericans' Reactions to Sept. 11, which found thatpost-traumatic stress disorder was significantly higher in NewYork at 11.2 percent than in Washington, D.C. at 2.7 percent,and major cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago,Houston, Los Angeles at 3.6 percent. In the rest of the countryit was 4.0 percent. The data was collected between Oct. 12 andNov. 12, 2001, from 2,273 adults recruited before Sept. 11.
"The tragedy created a developmental ripple effect," saidNuccitelli. "It has accelerated people's decision making."
In a relatively short period after the event, many coupleseither renewed their commitment or decided to divorce.
"One couple thinking about having children made a decisionwithin a month to go ahead. Another took 11 weeks to agree thatthey don't want to bring a child into this horrible world," hesaid.
Last Sept. 11, upstate New Yorkers Debra and Julian Keiserwere preparing to celebrate their daughter Amy's 14th birthday.This year, there will be no party that day.
"Maybe a week before or after," said Debra. "It's just toosad."
In the nation's heartland, Kansas antiques dealer DagniAnders and her husband, Dale, an engineering specialist forCessna Aircraft, are going ahead with plans to mark their 37thwedding anniversary, but with a twist.
At their Wichita church with a new pipe organ, a masterorganist will present a patriotic concert. "That should be afitting way to recognize both our anniversary and the morerecent events of Sept. 11," she said.
A residual effect for New Yorkers in particular is a"startle response," meaning they are more sensitive to loudnoises such as thunder or fireworks.
But that should diminish over time, psychologists say.
Kalayjian believes the world community will experience theanniversary reaction to some extent.
"The feeling of sadness will be overwhelming," shepredicted.
Just after the attacks, she said she got 200 e-mails a dayoffering condolences.
"I've traveled a lot since it happened," she said. "Peoplein Germany — from 12-year-old kids to 60-year-old women — were telling me what they were doing or eating at that exactmoment, what they were holding in their hand. Their memorieswere very explicit, which is indicative of a major impact."
To be sure, Kalayjian said the feelings of sadness will bemixed with some anger and some helplessness.
"Some people are scared of being sad and would rather beangry," she said. "But that is an unhealthy way of coping."
"One of the downsides of grief is that we can becomeself-destructive," Nuccitelli agreed. "People should be carefulabout doing too much of anything — gambling, alcohol or drugusage."
"As we get closer to the day, we'll see more peoplereacting. The feelings will build day by day, and take severalweeks to diminish," said Nuccitelli.
Hilfer suggested people who anticipate being affectedshould ignore the media as much as possible for a week beforethe anniversary and for a few days after .
First WTC Family Accepts $1.04 Million Federal Award
W A S H I N G T O N, Aug.8 — The family of a man killed in the World TradeCenter attack has accepted a $1.04 million award from the federalvictims compensation fund, the first to acknowledge accepting apayout.
The victim was a recent college graduate in his 20s, who wasunmarried and without children, and who earned nearly $60,000 ayear in the financial services industry, according to RobertaGordon, the lawyer for his family.
The fund, created by Congress after Sept. 11 and run by KennethFeinberg, awarded the man $1.19 million for his unfulfilledfinancial potential and for the family's pain and suffering — minuslife insurance and workers compensation payments.
Feinberg estimated that average awards from the fund will be$1.85 million.
But Gordon said today that the award was on the high end ofthe family's expectations.
"I thought it was eminently fair," Gordon said.
Many families ambivalent about the fund are watching the firstbatch of awards to get a sense of how generous Feinberg will be andhow he will rule on some still ambiguous issues. To be eligible forthe payments, families must agree not to sue airlines, thegovernment or other entities.
Awards are based on a formula that includes earning potentialand a non-economic payout for pain and suffering of $250,000.
Another $100,000 is added for a spouse or each dependent child.
Gordon called the award "another sad milestone" for thefamily.
"They want closure," she said. "This is very emotional forthem. Getting this award is not a joyous occasion."
Gordon agreed to share details of her clients' case but only oncondition that their identities not be revealed.
News of the award was first reported in The New York Times. It could be some time still before the family sees the money,and questions remain over exactly how it will be distributed,Gordon said. A portion of the award must adhere to a victim's willor state estate laws if no will exists. Another portion must meetlaws governing wrongful death payouts. The award notice came with adetailed legal checklist that, among other things, asked whetherthe family wanted the award in a lump sum payment or in anotherform.
About 650 victims' families have applied to the fund so far.
The Justice Department, which is administrating the fund, saidit could not confirm details of the case or say whether others haveaccepted fund awards. Spokesman Charles Miller said in the next fewweeks the department would post on its Web site information aboutthose who have accepted awards from the fund to provide an idea ofthe awards' size. Names and other identifying characteristics wouldnot be included, he said.
—The Associated Press