- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) — Four men accused of plotting to bomb a fuel pipeline feeding the city’s busiest airport were so taken by an informant that they were sure God had sent him to them, authorities said.

The informant made several overseas trips to discuss the plot against John F. Kennedy International Airport, even visiting a radical Muslim group’s compound in Trinidad, officials said. He also joined the plotters on airport surveillance trips — where authorities were waiting, they said.

The suspects were convinced he was guided by a higher purpose. The ringleader thought the informant “had been sent by Allah to be the one” to pull off the bombing, according to a federal complaint.

Authorities said the plot, revealed Saturday, demonstrates the growing importance of informants in efforts to combat terrorism, particularly as smaller radical groups become more aggressive.

The man accused of being the mastermind, Russell Defreitas, 63, is now in custody in New York, where he is due to have a bail hearing tomorrow.

Two other suspects, Kareem Ibrahim and Abdul Kadir, a former member of Guyana’s parliament, were in Trinidad and will fight extradition to the United States, their attorney, Rajid Persad, said in a Trinidadian court yesterday. The two made their initial court appearance there on one count each of conspiracy to commit a terrorist act against the government of the United States. The judge set a bail hearing for Monday and an extradition hearing for Aug. 2.

Authorities in Trinidad are seeking a fourth suspect, Abdel Nur.

The leader of the radical Muslim group that the defendants purportedly visited in Trinidad told the Associated Press yesterday that his group had no connection to the plot. “I know nothing about these men and I have nothing to do with whatever they are being charged for,” said Yasin Abu Bakr, the longtime head of Jamaat al Muslimeen.

Mr. Bakr would not say whether he knew any of the suspects.

Tom Corrigan, a former member of the FBI-New York Police Department Joint Terrorism Task Force, said the Kennedy airport case and the recent plot to attack Fort Dix illustrated the need for inside information. Six men were arrested in a plot to attack soldiers at the New Jersey military base after an FBI informant infiltrated their group.

“These have been two significant cases back-to-back where informants were used,” Mr. Corrigan said. “These terrorists are in our own back yard. They may have to reach out to people they don’t necessarily trust, but they need — for guns, explosives, whatever.”

In the Kennedy airport case, the informant was a twice-convicted drug dealer who found himself in the middle of what investigators called a terrorist plot conceived as more devastating than the September 11 attacks.

Authorities said the JFK scheme was an example of homegrown terrorism. Mr. Defreitas, 63, immigrated to the U.S. more than 30 years ago, but he told the federal informant that his feelings of disgust toward his adopted homeland had lingered for years.

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