- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 2, 2007

Several men were charged today with plotting to destroy New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) by planting explosives to blow up massive jet-fuel supply tanks and a 40-mile pipeline.

The arrests include Russell Defreitas, a Brooklyn resident who was born in Guyana and a former airport cargo worker. Trinidad officials arrested Kareem Ibrahim, a Trinidad citizen, and Abdul Kadir, a former member of the Guyanese parliament. A fourth suspect still at large has been identified as Abdel Nur, a Guyanese national.

Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, called it “one of the most chilling plots imaginable.”

In a recorded conversation following one of the surveillance missions to JFK airport, “Mr. Defreitas predicted that the attacks would result in the destruction of ‘the whole of Kennedy,’ that only a few people would survive the attack, and that because of the location of the targeted fuel pipelines, part of Queens would explode,” the criminal complaint said.

The arrests were made Friday night following a five-month investigation by the Joint Terrorist Task Force, and the men were charged today with conspiring to attack JFK airport by planting explosives to blow up the airport’s major jet-fuel supply tanks and the Buckeye Pipeline.

The airport handles 1,000 flights per day, nearly half of which are international. Each year, approximately 45 million passengers and more than 1.5 million tons of cargo with an estimated value of $120 billion move through JFK.

The Buckeye Pipeline distributes fuel and other petroleum products to sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the New York boroughs of Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Officials say the plot was foiled long before it could come to fruition and the public was never at risk.

According to the criminal complaint, the men began plotting in January to “destroy buildings, fuel tanks, and fuel pipelines at JFK airport with explosives.”

U.S. authorities say the men obtained satellite photographs of the airport and surrounding facilities from the Internet and traveled frequently between the United States, Guyana, and Trinidad to discuss their plans and solicit the financial and technical assistance of others.

The plot was presented to radical groups in South America and the Caribbean, including senior leadership of Jamaat Al Muslimeen (JAM), which was responsible for a deadly coup attempt in Trinidad in 1990.

Mr. Kadir and Mr. Nur “were longtime associates of JAM leaders,” the complaint 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,’” said Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security.

An informant working with law enforcement agents began monitoring the plot in its early stages and made numerous recordings. In one discussion, authorities said, Mr. Defreitas said JFK Airport holds symbolic importance for Americans.

“Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow … They love John F. Kennedy like he’s the man … If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. It’s like you can kill the man twice,” the complaint quoted him as saying, adding that he also bragged last month that the plot “can destroy the economy of America for some time.”

The men plotted to disable the airport control tower monitors at the fuel tank locations and ignite two explosions to provide enough oxygen to ignite the inner tank.

“The defendants are charged with conspiring to bomb one of the busiest airports in the United States, located in one of the most densely populated areas in the Northeast. Had the plot been carried out, it could have resulted in unfathomable damage, deaths, and destruction,” Miss Mauskopf said.

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