UPDATE 5-New York homes raided in terrorism probe

Mon Sep 14, 2009 7:07pm EDT

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(Adds quotes from neighbors)

* No imminent danger, congressmen say

* Focus on one man who met with people in Queens

* Apartment shared by five Afghan men searched - witness

* Militant ideology sympathetic to al Qaeda detected - NYT

By Edith Honan

NEW YORK, Sept 14 (Reuters) - New York City police and the FBI raided homes in the borough of Queens early on Monday as part of an investigation into suspected terrorism, focusing on one man who has been under surveillance, officials said.

Authorities searched at least two apartments including one shared by five Afghan men, taking some of them in for questioning, said one man who was questioned.

Members of U.S. Congress briefed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation said there was no imminent danger.

"There was nothing imminent, and they are very good now at tracking potentially dangerous actions and this was preventive," said Charles Schumer, a U.S. Senator from New York who was among those briefed by FBI officials.

A man who identified himself as Amanullah Akbar, a 30-year-old taxi driver, said the FBI raided the apartment he shares with four other Afghan men at 2:30 a.m. (1630 GMT)

He was brought in for questioning and released and said he had no idea why his home was targeted, adding that he believed one of his roommates was arrested.

A neighbor said she saw FBI agents armed with what she called machine guns storm the apartment building, and that one of them emerged carrying a box.

"It was scary. I wasn't going to stop the FBI and ask them what was going on," said Melissa Khan, 28.

NYPD and FBI officials provided few details, calling it part of an ongoing investigation of the joint terrorism task force.

AL QAEDA IDEOLOGY SUSPECTED

The New York Times, citing an unnamed senior law enforcement official, said authorities had uncovered a small group of people who espoused a militant ideology aligned with al Qaeda.

Neither a specific plot nor a target of any planned attack had been detected, but their activities had aroused enough suspicion to obtain search warrants, the Times said.

Schumer told reporters the raid was unrelated to an appearance in New York by President Barack Obama on Monday.

Peter King, a Republican congressman from New York who was also briefed on the case, told ABC News: "He (the main suspect) was being watched and concern grew as he met with a group of individuals in Queens over the weekend.

"The FBI went to court late last night for an emergency warrant to conduct the raids this morning," ABC quoted King as saying.

New York City has been on high alert since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the recent anniversary has reminded many that the city was targeted in the suicide hijackings that destroyed the World Trade Center eight years ago.

The Twin Towers were also hit by a truck bomb attack in 1993 that killed six people and wounded more than 1,000.

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York and Thomas Ferraro in Washington; Writing by by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Philip Barbara)

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