Sunday, July 29, 2007

Alleged JFK Terror Plot

Source: Trinidad Express & CNN
Orig. date of post: June 4th, 2007

The whole country was abuzz yesterday as word spread that two men - one a Trinidadian, the other a Guyanese - were arrested in T&T in connection with a plot to blow up fuel lines at the John F Kennedy Airport in New York.

The two, Kareem Ibrahim and Abdul Kadir, were amongst four suspects who one US Justice Department official describe as "al Qaeda wannabes" in a CNN report.

A third man Russell Defreitas, an American citizen native to Guyana, was held in New York, while a fourth, Abdel Nur, a Guyanese, was said to be at large in T&T. The four will be charged with conspiring to blow up jet fuel supply tanks and pipelines at JFK International Airport in New York. Defreitas was arraigned in a New York court yesterday.

A Justice Department statement said the men began planning the assault on January 6. The criminal complaint against the men alleges that the plot tapped into an international network of Muslim extremists from the United States, Guyana and T&T.

"We consider this plot to have been credible, with an intent to commit acts of violence, but yet not fully operational," a law enforcement official told CNN. According to the criminal complaint, Defreitas identified targets and escape routes and assessed airport security.

CNN noted that officials said the "defendants obtained satellite photographs of JFK airport and its facilities from the Internet and traveled frequently in the United States, Guyana and T&T to discuss their plans and solicit the financial and technical assistance of others". In one conversation recorded by the FBI, Defreitas discusses an incident he says motivated him to strike JFK. He claim he saw military equipments being shipped to Israel, including missiles, that he found would be used to kill Muslims.

"Any time you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States," Defreitas said, according to a recording played to US reporters. "To hit John F Kennedy, wow...! They love John F Kennedy likes if he's the man....If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. You can kill the man twice." He said he "wanted to do something to those bastards." In another taped conversation with his alleged conspirators last month, Defreitas compared the plot to attack JFK Airport with the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, saying: "Even the Twin Towers can't touch it. This can destroy the economy of America for some time." according to Justice officials.

The plot was reportedly revealed when the planners tried to recruit a person who was a law enforcement informant, sources said. JFK handles on an average more than 1,000 flights daily, about half of which are international flights. Each year, the airport processes about 45 million passengers and more than 1.5 million tons of cargo, with an estimated value of $120 billion.

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