2 Men Convicted in JFK Terror Plot

Unrest, Conflicts and WarCrime, Law and JusticeTerrorismJustice SystemArmed ConflictsGuyanaIslam

Two men were convicted Monday of plotting toblow up jet fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport, aterror plot that authorities said was meant to outdo the Sept. 11,2001, attacks and avenge perceived U.S. oppression of Muslimsaround the world.

A jury in Brooklyn federal court deliberated about five daysbefore finding Russell Defreitas and Abdul Kadir guilty of multipleconspiracy charges. Kadir was acquitted of one charge, surveillanceof mass transportation.

Defreitas, a former JFK cargo handler, and Kadir, once a memberof Guyana's parliament, were arrested in 2007 after an informantinfiltrated the plot.

Prosecutors alleged that Defreitas, a 66-year-old naturalizedU.S. citizen from Guyana, and Kadir, 58, wanted to kill thousandsof people and cripple the American economy by using explosives toblow up the fuel tanks and the underground pipelines that runthrough an adjacent Queens neighborhood. Authorities say the mensought the help of militant Muslims, including an al-Qaidaoperative, in Guyana.

The defendants wanted to set off an explosion "so massive ...that it could be seen from far, far away," Assistant U.S. AttorneyZainab Ahmad said in closing arguments.

Their vision prompted them to code name the plot "The ShiningLight," the prosecutor said.

Defense lawyers described their clients as cluelesstrash-talkers who were led astray by the informant, a convicteddrug dealer.

"It's pretty clear that these guys have seen too many BruceWillis movies and don't have enough to fill up their time,"Mildred Whalen, the attorney for Defreitas, told jurors.

The government's case relied heavily on tapes - secretlyrecorded by the informant - of Defreitas bragging about hisknowledge of Kennedy Airport and its vulnerabilities.

"For years, I've been watching them," he said of the fueltanks while on a reconnaissance mission with the informant.

He also marveled at the lack of security, saying, "No solider.Nothing at all."

In other tapes, Defreitas ranted about punishing the UnitedStates with an attack that would "dwarf 9/11." He told theinformant his U.S. citizenship gave him cover.

"They don't expect nobody in this country to do something likethis," he said. "They have their eyes on foreigners, not me."

Kadir testified in his own defense, denying he was a militantMuslim who spied for Iran for years before joining the JFK scheme.He told jurors that he warned the plotters: "Islam does notsupport aggression or killing innocent people."

As part of the plot, Defreitas and the informant traveled toGuyana to try to meet with Kadir and show him homemade videotapesof the airport's so-called fuel farms. The plotters also discussedreaching out to Adnam Shukrijumah, an al-Qaida member andexplosives expert who was believed to be hiding out in theCaribbean at the time.

Shukrijumah, an FBI-most wanted terrorist, was indicted infederal court in Brooklyn this month on charges he was involved ina failed plot to attack the New York City subway system withsuicide bombers.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Unrest, Conflicts and WarCrime, Law and JusticeTerrorismJustice SystemArmed ConflictsGuyanaIslam