The Chicago Syndicate: Merry Christmas Bin Laden!
The Mission Impossible Backpack

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas Bin Laden!

Only in New York would a Mafia associate nicknamed The Irishman allegedly provide a bomb used to destroy a Pakistani immigrant's deli that was competing with a bagel store protected by the mob.

The feds yesterday charged reputed Gambino crime associate Edward Fisher with orchestrating the December 2001 arson attack on My Deli and Grocery in Staten Island.

Police had originally suspected the attack might be connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks because the firebomber had yelled, "Merry Christmas, Bin Laden."

The feds now say the attack was an old-fashioned mob attempt to eliminate competition. "Cowards threw a firebomb into an occupied grocery store and then ran away," said William McMahon of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Deli owner Hamim Syed was warned by an acquaintance that his plan to open a second convenience store would not sit well with "two strong Italian partners" with ties to a nearby bagel store.

In what may have been a staged extortion scheme, Syed was paid a visit by "Sonny" and "Vinny" - later identified as Luchese crime members - who warned him "things could get ugly," according to court papers.

The plot thickened when Syed sought help from a Pakistani businessman with ties to the Genovese crime family who arranged a sitdown with two other gangsters at the Hooters restaurant in Staten Island in the summer of 2001. Syed thought the matter was resolved and went ahead with his expansion plans.

According to court papers and sources, the owner of the bagel store - also a Pakistani immigrant and allegedly paying protection to the Gambino crime family - sought to get rid of Syed's rival store.

Fisher, a retired city Sanitation worker known as The Irishman, was allegedly tasked to give a bomb to another Gambino associate, Salvatore Palmieri. On Dec. 22, 2001, at 4:50 a.m., truck driver Anthony Maniscalco held My Deli's door open while Palmieri tossed in a bowling bag containing the device.

The deli was destroyed, but Syed, a founding member of the borough's Pak-American Civic Association, later reopened. The bombers pleaded guilty and are serving jail sentences.

Fisher, 54, facing at least 35 years in prison, was ordered held without bail. His lawyer denied the charges.

Thanks to Ernie Naspretto and John Marzulli

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