Possibly with some inside help. I wonder how similar to last year’s UK airline plot it’ll turn out to be.
Stand by for updates.
Update: Not too similar. “Sources said the plot involved a plan to blow up a jet-fuel pipeline at JFK setting off a potential massive explosion.”
Update: More than an hour after the story broke, there’s nothing on the wires about it except at WNBC. Meanwhile, the plot thickens: “Sources said one suspect is thought to be a former parliament or government official in Guyana.”
Update: Fox News has picked it up now. They say the plotters were under surveillance for “some time” and that they weren’t close to acting.
Update: The AP’s on it now. Three are in custody, one’s still on the loose.
Update: ABC News has new details:
Authorities have taken into custody a former cargo worker at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City who they say recruited an FBI informant to help blow up jet fuel tanks and pipelines at the airport, law enforcement officials told ABC News…
The former cargo worker, originally from Guyana, had been under surveillance and allegedly met with a radical group in Trinidad, sources say.
Additional arrests have been made in Trinidad, sources said.
No one’s said this is a jihadist plot (yet), and the locales here are probably a coincidence, but there is one notorious Al Qaeda operative at large with ties to both Guyana and Trinidad who’s allegedly been looking to hit the U.S. for a long time.
Update: Homegrown, says CBS. No known ties to Al Qaeda.
Update: WNBC has the names: Russell Defreitas, Abdul Nur, Kareem Ibrihim and Abdul Kadir. Your quote of the day, via CNN: “One suspect, a U.S. citizen who is a native of Guyana and who once worked at the airport, was described by a source as ‘a very angry Muslim extremist.'”
Update: What do you know — we have our first possible Shukrijumah connection.
FBI agents feared but never confirmed the three men accused of plotting to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York were linked to one of the most wanted al Qaeda leaders, Adnan Shukrijumah, known to have operated out of Guyana and Trinidad.
Officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com that they heard repeated references to “Adnan” during the extensive wiretaps conducted on the suspects’ telephone conversations, including calls to Guyana and Trinidad…
A FBI spokesperson in Miami said the squad assigned to track Shukrijumah was aware of the case but that “no connection” to the wanted al Qaeda suspect was found in the JFK case.
Update: One of the Guyanese suspects is also an imam.
Update: Two of them were associated with the group Jamaat al-Muslimeen in Trinidad. Here’s the sort of “thinking” that went into this:
“Any time you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow … they love John F. Kennedy like he’s the man … if you hit that, this whole country will be mourning. You can kill the man twice,” Defreitas said in another conversation, it said.
“Even the twin towers can’t touch it,” referring to the September 11 attacks in another comment that the law enforcement authorities said was recorded last month. “This can destroy the economy of America for some time.”
Update: Recorded conversations reveal whining about Israel’s war with Hezbollah last year, but the plot had apparently been in the works for two to three years.
Also, while the intent might have been there, the science was not:
The pipeline snakes more than 100 miles 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.
But, a source said, “They never let go of the idea,” and seemed determined to find a way to execute it regardless.
Update: The boss got a copy of the complaint in PDF form. Download it here.
Update: In paragraph 8, on page 8, Defreitas notes that Arab Muslims aren’t the only Muslims eager to get a taste of jihad. And lo and behold, there’s an AP story on the wires right now showing how gruesomely right he is. Meanwhile, on the top of page 10, Defreitas mentions a cell of “six or seven” people. Funny thing there too — the National Post leads today with a reminder that not all plots end with all the bad guys being arrested.
Update: Top of page 12 — the many “types” of jihad.
Update: Go figure:
Isha Kadir, the Guyanese suspect’s wife, said her husband flew from Guyana to Trinidad on Thursday. She said he was arrested Friday as he was boarding a flight from Trinidad to Venezuela, where he planned to pick up a travel visa to attend an Islamic religious conference in Iran.
Update: How big of a threat was this?
One law enforcement official played down Mr. Defreitas’s skills as a terrorist, calling him “a sad sack” and “not a Grade A terrorist.”
But he noted that his efforts to solicit the backing and blessing of Jamaat Al Muslimeen, which conducted a deadly attack on Trinidad’s Parliament during a failed coup attempt in 1990, could have had devastating consequences.