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Rediff.com  » News » Trinidad imam gets life for plot to blow up JFK airport

Trinidad imam gets life for plot to blow up JFK airport

January 14, 2012 09:38 IST

A 65-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring in a 9/11-like terror plot to blow up the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York by exploding fuel tanks and pipelines.

Kareem Ibrahim, a Shiite imam from Trinidad & Tobago, was sentenced in the Eastern District of New York by the United States District Judge Dora Irizarry for the failed plot through which he wanted to cause "extensive damage to the airport, to the New York economy, as well as the loss of numerous lives."

"Kareem Ibrahim abandoned the true tenets of his religion and plotted to commit a terrorist attack that he hoped would rival 9/11," US Attorney Loretta Lynch said.

Ibrahim was convicted by a federal jury of multiple terrorism offenses in May 2011 after a four-week trial, during which it was established that he provided religious instruction and operational support to a group plotting to commit the terrorist attack at the airport. He had also persuaded the plotters to seek financial and logistical help from Iran.

Ibrahim is the last of four defendants, arrested and charged in the plot, to be sentenced. He was arrested along with Abdul Kadir and Abdel Nur in Trinidad in June 2007 and was subsequently extradited to the United States. Another co-conspirator US citizen Russell Defreitas was arrested in New York.

After a nine-week trial in 2010, Defreitas and Kadir, who was a former member of parliament in Guyana, were convicted of terrorism charges and handed down life imprisonment sentences. Nur had pleaded guilty before trial to supporting the plot and was sent to 15 years in jail.

The plot originated with Defreitas, who had previously worked at the JFK airport as a cargo handler. He planned to attack the airport's fuel tanks and fuel pipeline.

In May 2007, Defreitas presented Ibrahim with video surveillance and satellite imagery of the targets for terrorist attack because Ibrahim had connections with militant leaders in Iran.

During cross-examination at the trial, Ibrahim admitted 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."

According to the trial evidence, the conspirators attempted to enlist support for the plot from prominent international terrorist groups, including al Qaeda leader Adnan El Shukrijumah and leader of the Trinidadian militant group Jamaat Al Muslimeen Yasin Abu Bakr. For the plot, Kadir was also sent to meet with his contacts in the Iranian revolutionary leadership, including

Mohsen Rabbani, the former cultural attache indicted for his role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Argentina.

 

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