Tag Archives: terrorism

20-year-old Flushing man indicted for terrorism support


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A 20-year-old Queens man was indicted this week for his support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and for wielding a knife at a federal officer, officials announced.

A federal grand jury in Brooklyn handed down the indictment on Monday charging Munther Omar Saleh, reportedly of Flushing, with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL, and assault and conspiracy to assault federal officers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The indictment accuses Saleh not only of conspiring to “provide material support to ISIL” but also of devising “a plan to conduct an attack in New York,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin said. Authorities believe he was preparing to specifically detonate a pressure cooker bomb in the New York metropolitan area on behalf of ISIL.

In a criminal complaint filed upon his June arrest, Saleh, a U.S. citizen who enrolled in a Queens college specializing in aeronautics in January, demonstrated his “violent jihadists beliefs” and support of ISIL through his online activities.

That online activity included tweets in support of recent terrorist attacks, translating propaganda materials to English for ISIL, and a May 7 email to himself that contained information about the construction of a pressure cooker bomb and searches for parts that could be used in an explosive device.

Authorities also believe that his activities revealed a “continuing effort to conduct a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIL, including by learning how to construct and detonate an explosive device,” according to court documents.

There were additionally searches of New York City landmarks and tourist attractions, surveillance cameras, weapons, ammunition, remote control helicopters and drones that piqued law enforcement interest.

Saleh and another individual were arrested on June 13 near 20th Avenue and the Whitestone Expressway after they allegedly charged at a federal officer while armed with knives.

The same indictment also charges Fareed Mumuni, a 21-year-old Staten Island resident and U.S. citizen, with attempt and conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL, assault and conspiracy to assault federal officers, and attempted murder of federal officers.

Authorities arrested Mumuni  just days after Saleh, reportedly believing they both conspired to provide support to ISIL and planned to carry out an attack on New York.

During the execution of a search warrant on Saleh’s home, he allegedly tried to repeatedly stab a FBI agent in the torso with a large kitchen knife, and was arrested. The agent was wearing body armor and reportedly suffered only minor injuries.

Both men’s arraignments are scheduled for Aug. 20. If convicted, Mumuni faces a maximum sentence of 85 years imprisonment and Saleh faces a maximum sentence of 65 years.

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Queens student busted for alleged terrorist support


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/Property Week

A 20-year-old college student living in Queens is accused of trying to help a terrorist group after he was arrested in an alleged confrontation with law enforcement, according to federal court documents.

The criminal complaint, filed in the Eastern District of New York, charges Munther Omar Saleh with knowingly conspiring to provide material support and resources, including service and personnel, to the foreign terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The U.S. citizen enrolled in January as a student at a college described as specializing in aeronautics located in the borough, and started coursework and laboratory work in electrical circuitry, court records said.

An investigation by the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) revealed that Saleh, also known as “Abu Omar al Ramil” and “Abu Omar ar-Ramil,” “espouses violent jihadists beliefs and is a fervent supporter” of ISIL, the complaint said, which has been demonstrated by his online activities in 2014 and 2015.

That support allegedly consisted of trying to make an explosive device to set off in the New York City area on behalf of ISIL and offering them help by translating propaganda materials to English.

Saleh’s online activity included tweets in support of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, the beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto by ISIL, the establishment of an ISIL military presence and Sharia law in New York City, and more recently the terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, according to court records.

A search of his computer and electronic surveillance of his online activity, including tweets, also revealed his translation work.

On March 15, a Port Authority police officer spotted Saleh walking toward the George Washington Bridge from the New Jersey side, court records said. He asked the officer for a ride across, and was told he could take a bus to the New York side of the bridge, but it was later determined that he never took the bus.

The following day, the same officer allegedly saw him walking on the bridge from New Jersey as Saleh was looking around repeatedly. The officer asked Saleh to accompany him back to the Port Authority office in Fort Lee, where he was later interviewed by a JTTF law enforcement officer.

During the interview, he reportedly said had gone to New Jersey to visit a friend and, when asked what he thought of ISIL, first said was not sure, but then expressed disapproval and stated he did not condone violence. He also consented to a computer search.

Authorities also believe that his activities revealed a “continuing effort to conduct a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIL, including by learning how to construct and detonate an explosive device,” according to the criminal complaint, and that his coursework in electrical circuitry could be “useful in the construction of an explosive device.”

Among his Internet activity that pointed to his alleged intent included a May 7 email to himself that contained information about the construction of a pressure cooker bomb and searches for parts that could be used in an explosive device.

On May 10, law enforcement members surveilling Saleh also observed him enter a spy store in Queens, which they believe sells products that could be used in a device.

There were also searches of New York City landmarks and tourist attractions, surveillance cameras, weapons, ammunition, remote control helicopters and drones that piqued law enforcement interest.

In the early morning of June 13, a co-conspirator was driving Saleh and another co-conspirator, both of whom were not identified, when law enforcement members, performing surveillance, allegedly observed the Jeep running stop signs and driving quickly through a parking lot with the vehicle’s lights off.

At about 4 a.m. while stopped at red light on 20th Avenue near the Whitestone Expressway, Saleh and the other passenger exited the car and took several steps toward the law enforcement vehicle before returning to the Jeep, court documents said. Moments later, the pair then got out of the car again and ran toward it, one going at each side. The car had to reverse to avoid them.

Saleh and the passenger were arrested at the scene and a search turned up a Smith & Wesson folding tactical knife in the waistband of the passenger’s pants. While they were detained, the two allegedly said they knew they were being followed for several days by several vehicles.

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Two Jamaica women accused of plotting terrorist attack


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Stu Rapley

Updated Friday, April 3, 10:14 a.m.

Federal agents arrested two Jamaica women Thursday for plotting to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil, officials said.

Noelle Velentzas, 28, of Inwood Avenue and Asia Siddiqui (the latter also known as Najma Samaa and Murdiyyah), 31, of 84th Road, who were former roommates, were taken into custody Thursday morning as a result of an investigation dating back to May 2013. They are U.S. citizens and, up until recently, shared an apartment at an unspecified Queens location.

According to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Velentzas and Siddiqui allegedly shared “violent jihadist beliefs,” openly sympathized with known terrorists, made contact with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and expressed a desire to launch an attack of their own in the U.S.

They reportedly educated themselves on bomb-making and visited local stores to purchase or research materials typically used to construct explosive devices.

Upon her arrest, Siddiqui had in her possession numerous propane tanks and instructions for converting them into explosive devices, federal sources said. Those instructions were reportedly downloaded from an online jihadist publication.

Their plot was foiled, however, through the efforts of an undercover federal agent, who obtained information from them through numerous meetings and conversations over the last two years.

“We are committed to doing everything in our ability to detect, disrupt and deter attacks by homegrown violent extremists,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement. “As alleged, the defendants in this case carefully studied how to construct an explosive device to launch an attack on the homeland. We remain firm in our resolve to hold accountable anyone who would seek to terrorize the American people, whether by traveling abroad to commit attacks overseas or by plotting here at home.”

Law enforcement sources said Siddiqui’s alleged terrorism ties date back to 2006, when she became close with Samir Khan, who later became a prominent figure in AQAP. Khan left the U.S. for Yemen following his relationship with Siddiqui and wrote propaganda magazines and bomb-making manuals for terrorists.

In September 2011, Siddiqui allegedly sent a sympathetic letter to Mohammad Mohamud, who was in federal prison for plotting to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, in 2010, authorities said.

Federal authorities intercepted the letter, which had the return address listed as “Najma Samaa” from 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica — the actual address of York College, from where Siddiqui graduated.

Velentzas, in meeting with the undercover operative in 2013, praised the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and praised its mastermind, Osama bin Laden, as her hero. To illustrate that point, she showed the agent her cellphone, which had as its background image a picture of bin Laden carrying an AK-47 machine gun.

Following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 — in which two terrorists converted pressure cookers into deadly explosive devices — Velentzas reportedly became obsessed with using pressure cookers as weapons.

FBI agents interviewed Siddiqui at LaGuardia Airport in July 2014, during which she denied having any connection to terrorists. After being allowed to leave, she reportedly told the undercover agent that she believed the agency was onto her and that she must delete incriminating “stuff” from her email accounts.

Between August 2014 and this February, Velentzas and Siddiqui allegedly continued talking about previous terrorist attacks —such as the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, in which a fertilizer bomb in a truck was used to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building — and researching bomb-making skills. They visited a local Home Depot and other stores and browsed through or purchased items known to be bomb-making components.

According to federal agents, in discussing specific, high-profile targets Velentzas mentioned in December 2014 potentially striking a police funeral, considering that the funeral that month for Detective Rafael Ramos in Glendale drew 25,000 mourners.

Velentzas and Siddiqui, who were ordered held without bail during their arraignment Thursday afternoon, were charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons or property in the U.S. and face life in prison if convicted.

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Top Headlines From Around the Web


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Queens couple found dead by son, 2, in apparent murder-suicide

A man is believed to have shot and killed his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself –leaving their two-year-old son to make the grisly discovery inside their bedroom, sources said. The apparent murder-suicide took place in the family’s South Jamaica home on Dillon Street yesterday. Roxanne Lambert, 41, and her partner, whose name has not been released, were found dead with gunshot wounds to the head at 11:30 p.m., sources said. Lambert’s 16-year-old son was also home when the tragedy unfolded. Relatives said the couple had a rocky relationship and were often heard arguing. Read More: New York Post

 

Brangelina to tie knot in France

They won’t be America’s sweethearts much longer. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie plan to tie the knot at their sprawling estate in France this summer — and then live in England for at least the next two years, according to published reports yesterday. The famed Tinseltown couple has spent the last six months quietly planning to hold a lavish wedding ceremony at their manse near the village of Correns, in the south of France, London’s Daily Star reported. They’ll reportedly exchange vows in a pre-Roman chapel on the grounds. Read More: New York Post

Accused subway plotter in court on terror charges

A New Yorker accused of helping plan one of the most chilling terror plots in the US since 9-11, is in court today to stand trial on a wide range of criminal charges. Adis Medunjanin and other former school classmates launched a scheme to carry out suicide bomb attacks in New York City’s subways, federal prosecutors plan to argue in Brooklyn federal court. In preparation for the strikes, Medunjanin – along with alleged fellow-plotters Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay – journeyed to Pakistan to undergo bomb-making instruction at an al Qaeda terror training camp in a tribal region abutting that nation’s frontier with Afghanistan, officials say. Read More: New York Post

Jury Selection Begins In Clemens Perjury Retrial

Jury selection begins today in Washington in the perjury retrial of former New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens. His first trial ended in a mistrial last summer after only two days of testimony because the prosecution introduced inadmissible evidence. The seven-time Cy Young award winner is accused of of lying to Congress in 2008 while lawmakers were investigating steroid use in baseball. He faces three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of Congress. Read More: NY1

 

Coachella 2012: Tupac hologram joins Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre onstage at music festival

Late rapper Tupac Shakur resurrected onto the Coachella stage this past Sunday night to perform a few of his hit songs alongside music maven Snoop Dogg, to the shock and disbelief of the music festival’s 75,000 fans. “What up, Coachella?!” the bare-chested Tupac hologram greeted a roaring crowd, before joining Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre on classic single “Hail Mary.” The faux Shakur wore acid-wash jeans and Timberland boots circa 1995, just around the time he was shot dead on September 13, 1996, at the young age of 25. Read More: Daily News

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo does not want a high-profile role at 2012 Democratic National Convention

Despite having his eye on a 2016 presidential run, Gov. Cuomo wants no part of a high-profile role at this year’s Democratic National Convention, insiders say. While Cuomo will attend the convention in September in Charlotte, N.C., those close to him say he doesn’t want President Obama to consider him for a major speaking slot — though it’s not certain he would even be asked. Cuomo has learned from the example of his father, a former three-term New York governor. Mario Cuomo, like his son is now, was in his second year as governor when he was picked to deliver the keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. Read More: Daily News

 

 

Three in elite NYPD anti-gun unit accused of treating black suspects like ‘animals’

Top supervisors of an elite NYPD anti-gun unit allegedly handled white suspects with kid gloves while treating blacks like “animals” deserving of a bullet to the head, the Daily News has learned. The explosive charges appear in sworn depositions from three members of the firearms suppression unit: two current NYPD detectives and a retired first-grade detective. Their testimony, part of a federal discrimination lawsuit, details how Capt. James Coan and Lt. Daniel Davin created a hostile environment for both their black detectives and suspected minority-group gun traffickers, said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Eric Sanders. Read More: Daily News

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

New crane horror: Worker dies in W. Side collapse at subway pit

A construction worker was killed and three of his colleagues were injured last night when a crane collapsed at the No. 7 train subway-extension construction site on the West Side, authorities said. The accident occurred at around 7:20 p.m. at West 34th Street and 11th Avenue when two pieces of the crane — 80- and 40-foot sections — became dislodged and fell into the below-ground site and onto the workers, officials said. Read More: New York Post

French Academic Found Dead In His Midtown Hotel Room

Police were investigating late Tuesday the death of prominent French academic found inside a Midtown hotel room. Richard Descoings, 54, was discovered in his bed at the Michelangelo Hotel on Tuesday afternoon. Investigators say hotel security went to his room after he did not check out. Sources say Descoings was found naked and his computer and phone were thrown from the seventh floor window. They also say police are looking for people who may have come into his room during the overnight hours. Read More: NY1

 

Off-Duty School Safety Agent Awaits Arraignment On Rape, Weapons Charges

An off-duty school safety agent was awaiting arraignment Monday after being arrested on rape charges in Queens. The New York City Police Department says Tommy Johnson, 28, is also charged with criminal weapons possession, menacing and assault. Sources say Johnson raped his ex-girlfriend in Brooklyn over the weekendJohnson currently lives in Ridgewood, Queens, where neighbors say he resides with his mother. Read More: NY1

 

Woman Dies Following Cooking Accident In Jackson Heights Home

A woman died Monday following an apparent cooking accident in her apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. The New York City Fire Department says they responded to a 911 call Monday morning for a woman in cardiac arrest. Fire officials believe the woman was severely burned when her sleeve caught on fire while cooking. They say she then went into the hallway, where she went into cardiac arrest. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Read More: NY1

 

Key approval is won for Willets Point project

The city has won a key approval for its massive Willets Point redevelopment, dealing a blow to local property owners who hoped to delay or even halt the project. The Federal Highway Administration ruled that ramps proposed for the Van Wyck Expressway would have “no significant impact” on the surrounding area, according to a letter sent to the state Department of Transportation late last month and released Monday by city officials. Read More: Crain’s New York Business

 

NYPD investigating image on Al Qaeda forums as possible threat to New York City

A graphic featuring the New York skyline and posted on terrorism websites blares a chilling message in bold letters: “Al Qaeda coming soon again in New York.” The NYPD and the FBI are scrambling to locate the source of the message and trying to figure out whether it’s a credible threat or a sick taunt. The 3-D images spotted on Al Qaeda Internet forums Monday show the letters scrawled across a city street, as a father and son stroll by in amazement. Read More: Daily News

 

Authorities still looking for motive in Oakland shooting rampage at small Christian college that left seven dead

One wounded woman cowered in the bushes after the gunman opened fire on the campus of a small Christian university. One student hid in a locked classroom as the shooter banged on the door. Another heard the shots and ran to safety. All within an hour Monday, police said, a 43-year-old former student named One L. Goh walked into Oikos University, and began a rampage that left seven people dead and three people wounded, trapped some in the building and forced others to flee for their lives. Read More: Daily News

 

 

‘Rape’ victim dad’s anguish

Don’t let your daughters move to New York City. That’s the heart-wrenching advice of the father of a city schoolteacher who is still devastated after being sexually assaulted at gunpoint by an off-duty cop last summer. “It’s a dangerous city,” said the dad, whose name and location are being withheld to protect the identity of his 25-year-old daughter. “When things like this happen, it just makes you think twice,” the dad told The Post from his small, out-of-state farm. Read More: New York Post

 

 

Handyman Convicted Of Murder Of Manhattan Building Cleaner

A handyman accused of killing a Manhattan building cleaner and hiding her body in an air-conditioning duct was convicted of second-degree murder Monday. After deliberating for two days, jurors also found Joseph Pabon, 27, guilty of first-degree kidnapping. Prosecutors say Pabon smothered 46-year-old Eridania Rodriguez with industrial tape in July 2009. Read More: NY1

 

Boy, 10, shot in Williamsburg

A 10-year-old boy was hit by a stray bullet in Williamsburg late last night, police said. The child was with his father below the elevated subway tracks on Broadway near the Hewes Street station at around 10:55 p.m., when teens down the block began arguing, cops and witnesses said. “Ten or 15 people [were] fighting. I called 911 when I heard the gunshots, two or three shots,” said Baruch Bing, 23, who lives near the shooting scene. Read More: New York Post

Koch endorses Queens House pol

Ed Koch’s legendary clout with Jewish voters is about to be tested again. Hoping to repeat his kingmaker role from a closely watched congressional race six months ago, the outspoken ex-mayor yesterday threw his support behind Assemblyman Rory Lancman in a three-way race for the Democratic Party nomination in Queens’ 6th Congressional District. He called Assemblywoman Grace Meng and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley “first rate” but said he preferred Lancman’s position on Israel. Read More: New York Post

Prosecutors want ‘Millionaire Madam’ lawyers to zip it 

A Manhattan judge is weighing prosecutors’ demand to bar lawyers for accused “Millionaire Madam” Anna Gristina from publicly discussing some of the most sensational evidence in the case. Gristina, a 44-year-old soccer mom who is being held on $2 million bail, was not in court Monday as officials asked for a “protective order” to keep their evidence secret. Read More: Daily News

Eighteen people busted in alleged $1.9M auto loan scheme in Queens


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Eighteen people busted in alleged $1.9M auto loan scheme in Queens

Eighteen people were indicted today for their alleged roles in two auto loan fraud schemes that resulted in nearly $2 million in losses, authorities said. Sixteen people have been arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on charges that include grand larceny and possession of stolen property, while two others remain at-large. Twelve of the accused scammers allegedly purchased luxury cars, such as Cadillac Escalades, BMWs and Porsches, between July 2008 and March 2010, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Help for Home Owners

The city is aiming to restore the homeownership hopes of Queens residents hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew Wambua joined Queens elected officials, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the New York Mortgage Coalition on November 15 to announce the commencement of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2) Buyer Assistance Program. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Stabbings Take Place Near Manhattan School

Sources say two teenagers were wounded during an attempted robbery of a jacket near P.S. 153 in Hamilton Heights in Manhattan this afternoon. NY1 has learned one was wounded in the stomach and the other was wounded in the hand. Both were taken to the hospital. Police are looking for two suspects, one male and one female. Read More: NY1

Man Who Funded Terror Plotter To Be Sentenced Today

The man who admitted to illegally transferring money to fund the attempted Times Square bombing is being sentenced in federal court today. Mohammad Younis plead guilty in August to giving Faisal Shahzad $7,000 from Pakistan through an illegal money transfer business. Weeks after Younis gave him the money, Shahzad tried to explode a car bomb in the middle of Times Square last year. Shahzad was caught fleeing the country, later pleaded guilty and is now serving life in prison. Younis faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Read More: NY1

Bronx Man Charged With Murder Of East Harlem College Student

Police have made an arrest in connection with the death of a Manhattan woman. Bakary Camara, a 41-year-old Bronx resident was charged with the murder of 36-year-old Rita Morelli. The Italian college student’s body was found last Wednesday in an apartment on East 120th Street in East Harlem with cuts to her neck. Morelli left her hometown in Italy five years ago to pursue a career in design. Read More: NY1

Baby in trash in upper Manhattan was killed; young mom charged with “self-abortion” 

The young mother of a dead female fetus found in the trash in upper Manhattan has been charged with self-abortion, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday. Yaribely Almonte, 20, wrapped the fetus in plastic and dumped the girl in a bin outside her building on W. 191st. St., near Wadsworth Ave. A man sorting recyclables discovered the child’s lifeless body Tuesday, and Almonte was charged Wednesday night. Under state law, a woman can be charged with self-abortion if the fetus is older than 24 weeks. Read More: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/21/2011: NYC Man Arrested For Plotting To Kill U.S. Servicemen In Name Of Al-Qaeda


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

NYC Man Arrested For Plotting To Kill U.S. Servicemen In Name Of Al-Qaeda

A Dominican Republic native living in Washington Heights is under arrest for conspiring to build a bomb for terror purposes and possessing a weapon with the intent of waging a campaign of violence in the name of al-Qaeda, New York City authorities announced Sunday night. Jose Pimentel, 27, was arrested by New York City police on Saturday. Investigators say Pimentel had also planned to use a bomb to kill U.S. military personnel returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had also allegedly expressed a desire to bomb police patrol cars and postal facilities. Read More: NY1

 

Queens Driver Charged With DWI

A Queens driver is facing multiple charges including driving while intoxicated in connection with a Saturday crash on the Long Island Expressway. Police say 37-year-old John Gilette was driving a Jeep Wrangler onto the expressway Saturday morning near the 48th Street ramp in Maspeth when he swerved into a tractor trailer. Gilette’s car hit the right side cabin of the trailer before hitting a wall. Read More: NY1

Brawl chaos at Astoria club

A Queens nightclub was the scene of a bizarre string of violence that left four men injured early yesterday, authorities said. Several thugs first jumped a 23-year-old man at Amnesia on Steinway Street in Astoria, slashing his back, at about 4:15 a.m., cops said. As the thugs ran out of the hot spot, other clubgoers fled, too, authorities said. One of the alleged attackers, Orlando Santos, 18, was running when a car — not believed to be connected to the fight — struck him, dislocating his hip. Read More: New York Post

Former Mayor Giuliani Pushes For More Nuclear Energy Use In Astoria Forum

The Queens Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum in Astoria Friday with experts and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the keynote speaker, to discuss possibilities for clean and sustainable energy use, as the Bloomberg administration estimates the city will have one million more people by 2030. Watch the Video: NY1

Parents rip NYC schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott over ‘chaos’ at Queens high school

 

A Queens high school where the daughter of city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott teaches gym is so disorganized that many students don’t know where their classes are or when they start. Some kids at Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills have gotten 10 different class schedules in 11 weeks of instruction, angry parents say. But this is all news to Walcott, because he refuses to talk shop with his daughter. Read More: Daily News