- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2007

Three men, including a former member of the Guyanese parliament, were charged yesterday with plotting to destroy the fuel-supply tanks at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and the 40-mile fuel pipeline from New Jersey to the airport in Queens.

The plot was foiled long before it could be carried out, and authorities said the public was never at risk.

The arrested men include Russell Defreitas, a Brooklyn resident who was born in Guyana and formerly was a cargo handler at the airport. Trinidad officials arrested Kareem Ibrahim, a Trinidad citizen, and the former Guyanese government official, Abdul Kadir. A fourth suspect, still at large, was identified as Abdel Nur, a Guyanese citizen.

“Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States,” Mr. Defreitas was quoted in the complaint. “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.” Authorities said he boasted last month that the explosions “can destroy the economy of America for some time.”

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

In a recorded conversation after one of the surveillance missions to JFK airport, she said, “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 arrests were made Friday night after a five-month investigation by the Joint Terrorist Task Force, and the men were charged yesterday with conspiracy.

The airport handles 1,000 flights daily, nearly half of them international. More than 45 million passengers and 1.5 million tons of cargo, with an estimated value of $120 billion, move through the airport every year.

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

According to the criminal complaint, the men began plotting in January to “destroy buildings, fuel tanks, and fuel pipelines at JFK Airport with explosives.” The suspects obtained satellite photographs of the airport and surrounding facilities from Internet sites 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 Islamic 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 the airport holds symbolic and emotional importance for Americans.

The men are said to have plotted to disable the airport control tower monitors at the fuel-tank locations and to 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,” Ms. Mauskopf said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide