US 'foils plot to bomb airport'

Four suspects charged with planning to blow up New York's John F Kennedy Airport.

    Four people have been charged with conspiring to blow up jet-fuel supply tanks at JFK airport [AFP]

    Chief suspects


    The plot against the JFK airport allegedly has been linked to Jamaat  Al Muslimeen, described by justice officials as an international  network of Islamists from the US, Guyana and  Trinidad.


    Among the three suspects arrested since Friday was Russell Defreitas, a US citizen and native of Guyana who was arrested in New York.


    Targets in the airport plot included terminal
    buildings, aircraft and fuel tanks [AFP]

    Authorities said he was a former airport employee who conducted surveillance for the group, using his knowledge of the site to identify targets and escape routes.


    "Any time you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States," Defreitas said in one recorded conversation. "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 mourning. You can kill the man twice."


    Authorities said two suspects were in custody in Trinidad and Tobago: Abdul Kadir, a citizen of Guyana and former member of its parliament, and Kareem Ibrahim, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. Their extradition was being sought, officials said.


    Officials in Trinidad and Tobago said one of the suspects arrested there was caught on a flight preparing to take off for Venezuela.


    An FBI official said the fourth suspect, Abdel Nur, a citizen of Guyana, was believed to be at large in Trinidad.


    No direct ties


    The plotters had "as far as we know, no direct ties to al-Qaeda", John Miller, FBI's assistant director, told ABC news on  Sunday.


    But "they pump out the propaganda encouraging it, while they plan  the next big one (attack), and I think you can see that in the eight  or so plots that have been unravelled in the last roughly two years" on US soil.


    "When you're looking at inspired through the internet, home-grown extremists, well they can pop up anywhere."


    Miller said Jamaat Al Muslimeen is "a group that's been engaged in violence. They've taken hostages".


    'Chilling plot'


    This was "one of the most chilling plots imaginable", Roslynn Mauskopf, US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said at a news conference in New York on Saturday.


    "The devastation that would be caused ... is just unthinkable."

    Targets in the airport plot included terminal buildings, aircraft and fuel tanks, as well as the fuel pipeline to the airport.


    The plot was foiled with the help of an informant who recorded conversations with the suspects, some as recent as last month. The arrests came well before the plan came to fruition and the FBI said there was no threat to the public from the plot.   


    Officials said the plot began in the US and spread to Trinidad and Guyana.


    FBI officials said the cell had shown unusual persistence, seeking finance and expert advice and gathering photographic and video surveillance as well as satellite photographs.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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