By Adam Pincus
Shahawar Matin Siraj, 23, made the admission during a pre-trial hearing before U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon, requested by his attorneys in order to prevent the government from using at trial a statement he made to police.Matin Siraj's attorney, Martin Stolar, said in a telephone interview that his client may have thought a prosecutor, Todd Harrison, was assisting in his defense.”There is some testimony that he wasn't sure, that maybe he thought Harrison was his lawyer,” he said.Stolar asked for the hearing on a motion to suppress a post-arrest statement that Matin Siraj gave and that Stolar said was inadmissible because the defendant did not fully understand that he was waiving his Miranda rights. Those rights include the right to remain silent if questioned and to request a lawyer. Stolar acknowledged, however, that Matin Siraj signed a statement waiving those rights.Matin Siraj, a native of Pakistan, was arrested on Aug. 27, 2004, along with James Elshafay after allegedly plotting for several months to detonate explosives at several locations including the 34th Street station at Herald Square and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, a criminal complaint said.The two defendants allegedly discussed their plans with a confidential FBI informant known to them as Osama Daoudi, though in the complaint investigators noted that Matin Siraj and Elshafay stated several times that they wanted to cause economic harm, but did not want to kill anyone.Both defendants drew diagrams of Herald Square which they gave to Daoudi, who turned them over to law enforcement officials, according to the complaint. Stolar said that undercover surveillance tapes showed his client did not want to plant a bomb himself. “He doesn't want to hurt anyone, nor does he desire to take any human life,” he said. The complaint alleges Matin Siraj said he would help Elshafay to the station and make an escape, but did not want to handle any explosives himself.Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to start April 24, with the trial set to open May 1, Stolar said.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.