Feds Bust Alleged N.Y. Airport Terror Plot

Ex-airport worker, ex-Guyana parliamentarian allegedly plotted to attack JFK.

ByGigi Stone

June 2, 2007 — -- Authorities have arrested a former member of Guyana's parliament and a former cargo worker at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City who allegedly recruited an FBI informant to help blow up jet fuel lines at the airport, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Investigators said the plotters intended to cause catastrophic event. Roslynn Mauskopf, U.S. attorney for the eastern disctrict of New York, called the plan to blow up the airport's main fuel supply line "one of the most chilling plots imaginable."

Chilling, maybe, but investigators said the plan was thwarted early and was not yet in an operational stage.

In all, three individuals, including the former Guyana parliament member, Abdul Kadir, and Russell Defreitas, a U.S. citizen and native of Guyana who worked as an airport cargo worker, have been charged with conspiring to attack JFK. Also in custody was Kareem Ibrahim, a citizen of Trinidad being held in Trinidad.

Authorities were seeking Abdel Nur, a citizen of Guyana. The United States is planning to seek extradition of suspects seized abroad.

According to the criminal complaint, the defendants performed physical surveillance, made video recordings of JFK and its buildings and facilities, located satellite photographs of JFK on the Internet and sought expert advice, financing and explosives.

The complaint added that an informant and Defreitas discussed the war in Lebanon in August 2006 and agreed, "Muslims always incur the wrath of the world while the Jews get a pass."

It was at that point, court records said, Defreitas shared with the informant "that he had a vision that would make the WTC attack seem small."

Officials viewed the alleged plotters as a credible threat, but sources said they apparently did not have the technical savvy to carry out the plot.

One official said the plan "was not technically feasible." Officials added that the alleged plotters had no explosives and had not yet figured out a way to get some.

New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in some ways the plot was different than others.

"It's different in that it has ties to the Caribbean," he said, "and this is an area where we have growing concern and, I think, requires a lot more focus."

Authorities said the terrorist cell conspired to blow up terminal buildings, fuel tanks and the network of fuel pipelines that run beneath the airport complex and connect three states.

Jack Cloonan, an ABC News terrorism expert, said pipelines have been viewed as a vunerability for years.

"The Department of Homeland Security has taken a very serious look at it," he said. "Now, when you look at JFK for example, there is literally a spider web of pipelines that you see above ground, certainly on the periphery. And then there is an equally, if not more so, [complicated network of pipelines] underneath the ground."

The pipelines snake from Pennsylvania through New Jersey to JFK. Once they learned of the plot, authorities investigated at what points the pipeline could be accessed and found that even if those points were bombed, there would be little to no impact -- and no ignition -- and that the only way to wreak havoc at JFK would be to detonate bombs at the airport itself.

Defreitas had been under surveillance and allegedly met with a radical group in Trinidad, sources said.

Sources added that the plotters several times mentioned the name "Adnan," as well as Trinidad and Guyana.

The "Adnan" reference could suggest a link with Adnan Shukrijumah, the son of the imam at the mosque where some of the 9/11 plotters worshipped, although authorities were never able to prove or disprove a link to him. Shukrijumah, a Saudi, left the United States shortly before 9/11. He is considered extremely dangerous by the FBI and has a $5 million bounty on his head. He's known to travel on a Guyanese passport and a Trinidadian one as well.

However, an FBI spokesperson in Miami said the squad assigned to Shukrijumah was aware of the case but found "no connection" to the wanted al Qaeda figure. He is believed to be with top al Qaeda leaders along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the FBI spokesperson said.

The JFK investigation was made public and an arrest was made when one suspect was about to leave jurisdictions where U.S. authorities had the ability to monitor his activities, a source said.

ABC News' Brian Ross, Pierre Thomas, Richard Esposito, Jason Ryan, Jack Date and Aaron Katersky also contributed to this report.

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