Informant Helped Bust Alleged JFK Plot
Monday, June 4, 2007; 11:57 AM
NEW YORK -- 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 believed 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, demonstrated the growing importance of informants in efforts to combat terrorism, particularly as smaller radical groups become more aggressive.
Accused mastermind Russell Defreitas, 63, is now in custody in New York, where he was due to have a bail hearing Wednesday.
But 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 lawyer, Rajid Persad, told a Trinidadian court Monday. 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 June 11 and an extradition hearing Aug. 2.
Authorities in Trinidad are seeking a fourth suspect, Abdel Nur.
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 that group.
"These have been two significant cases back-to-back where informants were used," Corrigan said. "These terrorists are in our own backyard. They may have to reach out to people they don't necessarily trust, but they need _ for guns, explosives, whatever."
Without informants, Corrigan said, investigators are often left with little more than educated guesswork. "In most cases, you can't get from A to B without an informant," the ex-NYPD detective said.
In the Kennedy airport case, the informant was a twice-convicted drug dealer who found himself in the midst of what investigators called a terrorist plot conceived as more devastating than the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Would you like to die as a martyr?" the informant was asked, according to the indictment.