Drug Dealer, Racketeer Help Foil JFK Airport Bomb Plot

With four men now facing criminal charges related to the terror plot to blow up JFK International Airport and its expansive network of fuel lines, it has emerged that a drug dealer and racketeer worked with New York police and the FBI to help foil the plot.

The four suspects include 63 year-old Russell Defreitas, a native of Guyana and naturalized American who worked as an airport cargo handler during the early 1990’s, and 55 year-old Abdul Kadir who previously served as a mayor of a town in Guyana and as a Member of Parliament until two years ago.

On Friday, Mr Defreitas was arrested in Brooklyn, while Mr Kadir was taken into custody in Trinidad after his flight to Caracas was ordered to return to the airport.

Kareem Ibrahim, 61, was also arrested in Trinidad, where police are still hunting the fourth suspect, Abdul Nur, 57.

The US is seeking the extradition of Mr Kadir and Mr Ibrahim, and will probably also seek the same for Mr Nur when he is found. If convicted, the men could be jailed for life in the US.

A police informant with a criminal record that includes drug dealing and racketeering agreed to assist the investigation in exchange for payments and a reduced sentence.

The informant, who has not been identified, attended the same Brooklyn mosque as Mr Defreitas and befriended him last July. According to a complaint read out in the Brooklyn federal court where Mr Defreitas was arraigned, Mr Defreitas had confided to the informant his deep-seated hatred for the US because of what he saw as the US government’s pro-Israel, anti-Muslim bias.

“He saw military parts being shipped to Israel, including missiles, that would be used to kill Muslims,” stated the complaint, which also quoted Mr Defreitas as saying, “Muslims always incur the wrath of the world while Jews get a pass.”

Mr. Defreitas boasted that the carnage from his attack on JFK airport – which hosts 1,000 flights per day – would dwarf the death toll from 9/11 because he believed that the entire fuel network would also explode. This network includes a system of feeder pipes that carry jet fuel, heating oil and gasoline from New Jersey through Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens.

Yet oil industry experts have said that safety valves would almost certainly have prevented such a catastrophic explosion. Meanwhile, law enforcement investigators were quick to point out that no financing or explosives had yet been obtained to carry out the attack, and so passengers and residents had never been in any immediate danger.

Mr Defreitas was also reportedly fixated on the idea of blowing up a high-profile target named after President John F Kennedy, whose assassination traumatized a generation of Americans. “Any time you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States,” he allegedly told the informant. “They love John F Kennedy. If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. It’s like you kill the man twice.”

The four alleged plotters are all said to espouse “fundamentalist Islamic beliefs of a violent nature”, according to Mark Mershon, the assistant director of the FBI field office in New York. However, they appear to have been operating independently and had no known connection to al Qaeda.

The men had sought support and financing from a radical Muslim organization in the Caribbean known as Jamaat al Muslmeen, which operates in Trinidad and Tobago. It once staged a bloody but unsuccessful coup in Trinidad, and is now locally known as a street gang involved in the drug trade.

Although Mr Defreitas had travelled several times with his alleged accomplices to Guyana and Trinidad, and had recently begun wearing traditional Muslim dress and calling himself Mohammed, his arrest on terrorism charges surprised a number of people he has known over the years.

According to the New York Times, Mr Defreitas had been known by various people as a polite tenant who always paid his rent on time, a hard-working but semi-literate man whose brother had to fill out job applications for him, and a migrant who had initially enthusiastically embraced American culture, especially jazz music.

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