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Imam convicted of plotting terror attacks at JFK Airport

May 27, 2011 10:36 IST

A United States federal jury has convicted an Imam of conspiring to carry out terror attacks at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport by exploding fuel tanks and fuel pipeline located under the airport.

Kareem Ibrahim, 65, was convicted in New York after a four-week jury trial on charges of conspiracy to attack a public transportation system, attack aircraft and aircraft materials and conspiracy to destroy international airport facilities.

Ibrahim, a Trinidad resident, will be sentenced on October 21. HeĀ faces a possible life sentence. Ibrahim, also known as 'Amir Kareem' and 'Winston Kingston' "believed the attack would cause extensive damage to the airport and to the United States economy," as well as the loss of innocent lives.

"In pursuit of a radical terrorist agenda, bent on the destruction of John F Kennedy Airport and the murder of innocent civilians, Imam Kareem Ibrahim abandoned the true tenets of his religion," US Attorney Loretta Lynch said.

"We will continue to seek out and bring to justice all those who plot to attack the US and its people," she said.

According to evidence at the trial, Ibrahim, a leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago, provided religious instruction and operational support to a group plotting to commit a terrorist attack at JFK Airport.

The plot originated with Russell Defreitas, a naturalised US citizen from Guyana, who drew on his prior experience working at JFK Airport as a cargo handler to plan the attack on its fuel tanks and fuel pipeline.

Beginning in 2006, Defreitas recruited others to join the plot, including Ibrahim, Abdel Nur and Abdul Kadir, a former member of parliament in Guyana. In May 2007, Defreitas presented Ibrahim with video surveillance and satellite imagery of the targets as the latter had connections with militant leaders in Iran.

During the cross-examination at the trial, Ibrahim admitted that he advised the plotters to present the plot to revolutionary leaders in Iran and to use operatives ready to engage in suicide attacks at the airport.

On one of the recorded conversations entered into evidence, Ibrahim told Defreitas that the attackers must be ready to "fight it out, kill who you could kill and go back to Allah."

The conspirators also attempted to enlist support for the plot from prominent international terrorist groups and leaders including Adnan El Shukrijumah, an Al Qaeda leader and explosives expert, and Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Trinidadian militant group Jamaat Al Muslimeen.

Ultimately, the plotters followed Ibrahim's direction and sent Kadir to meet with his contacts in the Iranian revolutionary leadership, including Mohsen Rabbani, the former cultural attache indicted for his leading role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Ibrahim, Nur and Kadir were arrested in Trinidad in June 2007, with Kadir aboard a plane headed to Venezuela, en route to Iran. All three were subsequently extradited to the United States.

Defreitas was arrested in New York. After a trial in 2010, Defreitas and Kadir were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

Nur pleaded guilty before trial to supporting the plot and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Yoshita Singh In Boston
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