- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Several new charges have been brought against the four New York men accused of plotting to wage a self-styled jihad by bombing synagogues and blowing U.S. military airplanes out of the sky.

A federal indictment handed up Tuesday afternoon added charges of attempting the use of weapons of mass destruction within the United States and conspiracy to kill officers and employees of the United States against James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen.

The men already faced charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles.

They were arrested May 20 and charged through a document known as a criminal complaint, but prosecutors were procedurally required to put the allegations before a grand jury and bring an indictment for the case to continue. The indictment contains the new charges as well as the original ones.

The men, all of whom are reportedly Muslims, are being held without bond and face life in prison if convicted. An arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday.

According to authorities, the men, who apparently met in prison, were exposed by an FBI informant who they thought was a member of a Pakistani terrorist group that would supply them with weapons.

Mr. Cromitie told the informant, whom he met at a mosque in Newburgh, N.Y., that he wanted to do “something to America” and also hated Jews, authorities said.

Mr. Cromitie said his parents had lived in Afghanistan and he was angry that the U.S. military was killing Muslims in that country and Pakistan. The two Williamses, who do not appear to be related, are also Americans; Mr. Payen is a native of Haiti.

The informant - who posed as a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed, which seeks to end India’s rule of Kashmir - told Mr. Cromitie that he could get him explosives and surface-to-air guided missiles, the FBI said.

After the four men hatched a plan to attack a synagogue in the Bronx and aircraft at an Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, according to the FBI, the informant sold them phony C-4 plastic explosives and Stinger surface-to-air missiles that wouldn’t have worked.

The men were arrested after planting the phony explosives at a synagogue, authorities said.

Since the arrest, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has criticized the FBI’s tactics, questioning whether the suspected plot “may have been based more on the financial inducements of a government informant than on the predisposition to terrorism of three petty criminals and a mentally ill Haitian immigrant.”

Media reports have described the men as “down and out” and “hapless.”

But James Casey, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville, Fla., bureau, criticized the tone of such journalism.

“I think it is important for Americans to consider that had 19 young men been arrested on September 10, 2001, with nothing more than box cutters, duct tape and a plan to fly hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C., landmarks, the story of those arrests might have had the same patronizing tone,” Mr. Casey wrote in an editorial published in the Florida Times-Union.

“Unfortunately, we know how the story unfolded on September 11th. And while the plot still seems amateurish in retrospect, in the words of the 9/11 commission report, it was ‘good enough,’ ” he said.

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