Arrests made in JFK bomb plot
U.S. law enforcement officials said Saturday that four men have been arrested and charged with conspiring to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York by planting explosives to blow up the airport’s major jet-fuel supply tanks and pipelines.
One of the those charged is a former air cargo worker at the airport.
According to the criminal complaint, beginning in January 2006, the defendants conspired to destroy buildings, fuel tanks, and fuel pipelines at JFK airport with explosives.
The plot never reached the operational planning stage, but it highlights the continuing threat of domestic-based terrorism. Several weeks ago a group of men was arrested for plotting a shooting attack on Fort Dix in New Jersey.
JFK handles on average more than 1,000 flights daily, about half of which are international flights, and annually handles about 45 million passengers and more than 1.5 million tons of cargo with an estimated value of $120 billion.
The fuel supply for these operations are linked primarily to the Buckeye Pipeline, which distributes fuel and other petroleum products to various sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York, among others.
The defendants allegedly presented their plans to members of extremist Muslim groups overseas.
One of the defendants, Russell Defreitas, was identified as a former JFK employee, a U.S. citizen and native of Guyana. He reportedly worked at the airport in the early 1990s.
Abdul Kadir, a citizen of Guyana who has served as a member of the Guyanese Parliament, and Kareem Ibrahim, a citizen of Trinidad, are in custody in Trinidad.
A fourth defendant, Abdel Nur, a citizen of Guyana, is also being sought and may be in Trinidad.
The United States plans to seek their extradition.
Defreitas is alleged to have conducted video and photo surveillance on JFK on four occasions to assess targets, escape routes and airport security. An informant helped the FBI and other law enforcement agencies gather evidence and close in on the group.
Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department, said, 'The defendants sought to combine an insider’s knowledge of JFK Airport with the assistance of Islamic radicals in the Caribbean to produce an attack that they boasted would be so devastating to the airport that 'even the Twin Towers can’t touch it.' '
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a statement: 'We are proud to work with the FBI, the NYPD (New York Police Department) and all the members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force on this critical investigation. Today’s arrests demonstrate the successful cooperation between law enforcement agencies.
'Customers should be advised that all of our airports, including JFK, are open and fully operational, and security remains at a heightened state of alert,' the port authority said.
The Boston Globe reported that authorities have beefed up security at Logan International Airport, even though there was no indication the alleged conspirators were also targeting Logan.