NEW YORK – During a press conference shown on CNN, Saturday, June 3, 2007, Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. Attorney, reported that charges were filed today in the Eastern District of Brooklyn, New York against four individuals who plotted to set off explosives at JFK International Airport. She went on to say that three of the individuals have been arrested, while a fourth arrest remains outstanding.
Mark J. Mershon of the FBI told CNN that the plot never got past the planning stages thanks to cooperation among several government agencies, which began in January. A joint terrorism taskforce has been following the group’s movements as they planned and refined their plot in what they reported was “a very determined manner.” Speculation is that one of the terrorists – – as a former member of parliament in Guyana – – had connections to those who could provide the money and resources needed to make the plan happen.
Mershon went on to say that the plot focused on setting off explosives in a fuel line that feeds John F. Kennedy International Airport and runs through residential neighborhoods for about 40 miles into Linden, New Jersey. It is believed that the intent was to destroy as many buildings, fuel tanks, and fuel pipelines along that route as possible.
Fox News shared comments that were picked up by the task force from phone conversations between the terrorists; some of which were named in indictments. One conversation insinuated that JFK had been chosen for a particular reason. He stated that “Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. Americans love JFK. To them, he’s the man; so to destroy that airport, it’s like you can kill the man twice.” In another conversation, one of the terrorists supposedly commented “Even the twin towers can’t touch this thing. This could destroy the economy in America for years.”
One of the terrorists – – Russell Defreitas – – was a U.S. citizen (formerly from Guyana) who worked at JFK. He apparently spent a great deal of time surveying the airport, taking photographs, and learning everything he could about the area in question via the Internet. He was arrested Friday night and is expected to be arraigned in Brooklyn today. Two more of the terrorists – – Abdul Kadir and Kareem Ibrahim – – were apprehended in Trinidad, while a search is still underway to locate the fourth terrorist Abedel Nur. He is also believed to be in Trinidad.
According to officials during the press conference, these arrests are simply the latest in a series of apparent homegrown terrorism plots targeting high-profile American landmarks. He cited several other plots including one to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge as well as another plot uncovered a year ago that intended to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. And, of course, he pointed to the incident at Fort Dix in New Jersey, just one month ago.
Everyone from the U.S. Attorney’s office to the FBI and the mayor of New York pointed to the excellent work done by the task force. They also stressed the importance of groups like theirs all working together in order to prevent attacks like this one from happening.
Primary source: CNN Television
Secondary source: Fox News Channel
Other sources: Kathleen Koch, Kelli Arena, and Jason Caroll, “Four Charged With Terror Plot at JFK , Official Says.” CNN.COM URL (http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/06/02/jfk.terror.plot/index.html)