A former Bronx Uber driver who was busted by the feds for allegedly trying to join the Taliban in Afghanistan is actually just a “wannabe playboy” who was trying to run off to Thailand to meet up with women there, his defense attorney said at the opening of his trial Wednesday.
The suspect, Delowar Mohammed Hossain, 35, was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in 2019 just before boarding a flight to Thailand and charged with attempting to provide material support for terrorism and attempting to make or receive a contribution to the Taliban.
At Hossain’s Manhattan federal court trial Wednesday, defense attorney Andrew Dalack portrayed Hossain as a disillusioned Uber driver, upset about his finances and his family situation, who was going to Thailand to be with women — not to steal away to Afghanistan to join the Taliban.
Hossain’s bag was “chock full” of lotion, perfume, about a dozen pairs of designer jeans and Abercrombie shirts that he intended to give to women in Thailand and another in Bangladesh that he “fell head over heels for,” Dalack said
“These are items of a wannabe playboy,” he said.
The day before he was arrested, he asked one of his alleged terror cohorts — who was actually working undercover for the FBI — to acquire extra hair gel, condoms and lubricant before he left, Dalack added.
Prosecutors said Hossain actually planned to make his way to Afghanistan to join the Taliban and fulfill “his mission to kill Americans” — which he had planned for more than a year.
Hossain had $10,000 in cash at the airport, and had ordered other supplies he needed to survive in rural Afghanistan, where the Taliban was working to overthrow the government at the time, Assistant US Attorney Benjamin Schrier said.
In his opening statement, Schrier admitted Hossain visited strip clubs and bars and chatted with women online, but alleged it was an elaborate ruse to throw off federal authorities who believed him to be a radical Muslim terrorist.
Prosecutors have recordings of Hossain saying he wants to kill non-Muslim Americans before he dies, Schrier added.
In response, defense attorney Dalack told jurors his jihadi statements were actually a front — and he was actually a Muslim man with a “wild imagination.”
“It was the warrior act that was the cover story,” he said.
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