The Iranian Factor in the Caribbean Terror Plot to Bomb JFK Airport
At the end of May, a United States federal jury convicted a Shiite Imam of conspiring terrorist attacks at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Kareem Ibrahim, 65, was convicted in New York on charges of plotting to attack a public transportation system, attack aircraft and aircraft materials, and conspiracy to destroy JFK airport facilities. Ibrahim, originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, will be sentenced on October 21, 2011. He faces life imprisonment.
The Shiite cleric's plan was to explode fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline under the JFK airport. Ibrahim's partners were three would-be-terrorists from Guyana, an Anglophone Caribbean state. One man, Russell Defreitas, was a naturalized U.S. citizen. Abdul Kadir, another, was a former Guyanese MP was sentenced to life in prison in 2010. The third accused, Abdel Nur, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During Ibrahim's four-week trial, links between the Shiite cleric and Iran were exposed. Ibrahim admitted that he advised the Guyanese plotters to present their plan of attacking the JFK airport to revolutionary leaders in Iran. Ibrahim's trial, furthermore, showed that the plotters met in Iran with Mohsen Rabbani, an Iranian mullah and former cultural attaché in Argentina. Rabbani is wanted by Interpol for his leading role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Kadir, a former mayor and MP from 2002 to 2006, had strong relations with the Iranian regime. Trial evidence included letters Kadir wrote to the Iranian ambassador to Venezuela. While serving as MP, Kadir used to send regular reports to the Iranian ambassador in Caracas, which included details on the "low morale" in the Guyanese army. Kadir also presented the Iranian diplomat a five-year development plan to promote Islam in Guyana, which included infiltration into the military, police and other government agencies.
During the investigations, it was reported that Kadir was linked to an Iran-funded Islamic school in Guyana, the same school al-Qaeda terrorist, Adnan el-Shukrijumah was connected to during his stay in Guyana. El-Shukrijumah is a top al-Qaeda operative and explosives expert, who plotted to blow up New York's subway system.
In order to convict el-Shukrijumah, U.S. authorities sent informant, Steven Francis, a former convicted drug trafficker originally from the Dominican Republic, to Guyana. But instead of getting in touch with el-Shukrijumah, the joint terrorist task force informant met Kadir. Francis' role was central. He played the role of the "wannabe-terrorist" and he was able to earn the trust of the four Caribbean men. It is even reported that the informant had an affair with Abdel Nur's daughter, while his wife was pregnant in the U.S.
Francis, to get el-Shukrijumah, the most wanted terrorist in the Western Hemisphere, provided Kadir and his partners with money and logistical support to blow up the jet fuel supply tanks and pipelines that fuel the JFK airport.
The plotters tried to enlist support for the attack from el-Shukrijumah and Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Trinidadian militant group, Jamaat Al Muslimeen. The plot, however, was a ploy conceived by the FBI to trap el-Shukrijumah. As reported by the Guyanese paper, Stabroek News, the plan represented some technical impossibility: "Jet fuel does not produce explosive force, and the pipelines and fuel tanks that are buried beneath Queens have safety valves to prevent any mishap. The assumption by federal authorities that they might have lured el-Shukrijumah out of hiding was wrong as he failed to appear at any of the planning sessions in Trinidad and Guyana, and the federal officials were left only with a hefty bill," Stabroek News reported.
Ibrahim, Nur and Kadir were arrested in Trinidad in 2007. Kadir was arrested while on a plane headed to Venezuela, en route to Iran. The three of them were later extradited to the United States. Defreitas was instead arrested in New York.
During the plotters' trial, interesting information on Iran's role in Latin America came out. First, the Iranian Embassy in Venezuela was allegedly the coordinating center for Iranian activities in Latin America. Evidence showed that the Iranian Ambassador in Caracas received reports on how to infiltrate the Guyanese army and government. It is very probable that he receives similar reports from "spies," based in several Latin American countries. The bottom line is: the Iranian Embassy in Venezuela, playing a central role, shows the deep complicity between Tehran and the Caracas government. One of the plotters was actually arrested while aboard a flight to Venezuela, in an attempt to catch the weekly flight to Tehran. Venezuela, because of the total lack of transparency on what, and whom, is aboard flights, has caused the U.S. to be concerned about the weekly Venezuela-Iran flights, said General Douglas Fraser, the head of the U.S. Southern Command.
The other issue is that the plotters were being welcomed in Iran so as to expose their JFK airport bombing plan. This means that at least some revolutionary leaders were aware of the plot. It is not clear whether the plotters got support from Iran, but for sure Kadir felt that the safest place for him to hide was Tehran, as he was arrested while trying to escape there.
May 27, 2010
Final Caribbean terror accused found guilty
Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim now faces up to life in prison after being convicted of conspiring to attack the John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Sentencing for
Ibrahim, an Imam and leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago, has been scheduled for October 21. Ibrahim is the last of four Caribbean men accused to be tried for the plot to explode fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline under the JFK airport. Of the other three Guyanese accused, Russell Defreitas, who was also a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Abdul Kadir, a former member of parliament in Guyana, were found guilty after a 2010 trial and were sentenced to life in prison. The third accused, Abdel Nur, pleaded guilty to a charge of supporting the plot, a day before Defreitas' and Kadir's nine-week trial began, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Ibrahim Advised Plotters to Present Plan to Leaders in Iran
The evidence at Ibrahim's four-week trial established that he provided religious instruction and operational support to the group plotting to attack JFK airport. The plot originated with Defreitas, who drew on his prior experience working at the airport as a cargo handler, to plan the attack on its fuel tanks and fuel pipeline. Beginning in 2006, he recruited others to join the plot, including Ibrahim, Nur and Kadir.
According to the evidence, Defreitas presented Ibrahim with video surveillance and satellite imagery of the targets for terrorist attack in May 2007 because Ibrahim's connections with militant leaders in Iran. During cross-examination at his trial, Ibrahim admitted that he advised the plotters to present their plan to revolutionary leaders in Iran and to use operatives ready to engage in suicide attacks at the airport.
Plotters Meet with Iranian Diplomat Indicted in 1994 Attack
In 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 trial evidence showed that 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 attaché indicted for his leading role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Plotter Arrested on Plane Heading to Iran via Venezuela
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.
August 3, 2010
Kadir's Ties With Iran
Former Guyana People's National Congress Reform Party parliamentarian (PNCR), Abdul Kadir, and Guyanese-born Russell Defreitas now face life in imprison after a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, yesterday convicted them of planning to blow up the John F. Kennedy International Airport.
After deliberating for five days in a trial before Judge Dora L. Irizarry, the jury delivered the guilty verdict to the two men who showed no emotion as the decision was read, a report from the New York Times said. According to the report, Kadir and Defreitas were convicted on five counts of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. Defreitas was also convicted of surveillance of an airport; Kadir was acquitted of this charge. The men are scheduled to be sentenced on December 15, but according to the New York Times, the lawyers for the two men have indicated they will appeal the decision.
The conviction of the duo is the first for Guyanese in a terror plot against the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, and it has likely put this country under even greater scrutiny given Kadir's prominence and his Iranian ties, security sources say.
A lawyer for Kadir expressed disappointment yesterday, but not surprise at the verdict, a report from the New York Times said. The lawyer, Kafahni Nkrumah, reportedly said that the case had played on concerns about Muslims and terrorism, which are particularly resonant in New York.
Kadir Served as MP from 2002-2006
Kadir, 58, served as a PNCR MP in the eighth Parliament of Guyana from 2002 to 2006. He is also former mayor of Linden. He was arrested in June 2007 on a plane in Trinidad, on his way to Iran. The 67-year-old Defreitas, a United States citizen, was once employed as a cargo handler at the JFK airport. Two other men, Abdel Nur and Donald Nero (a Guyanese, he was involved in the initial states of the planning the attack), have pleaded guilty to participating in the plot. Kareem Ibrahim, meanwhile, is still awaiting trial. The plot to blow up the airport was hatched in January 2006, and reportedly involved blowing up jet fuel tanks leading to the airport.
Kadir Sent Regular Reports to Iranian Ambassador to Venezuela
Kadir's decision to testify in his defense caused his profile to grow. Once on the stand, the prosecution confronted him with evidence of his ties to Iran. The evidence included letters Kadir wrote to the Iranian ambassador to Venezuela and to the Iranian diplomat, who has been accused of leading a major terrorist plot in South America.
While on the stand, Kadir denied an accusation by the United States that he spent years secretly working as a spy for Iran, during which he allegedly passed along information about Guyana's economy, foreign policy and military to Iranian officials. According to a Bloomberg report, Kadir admitted, under cross-examination, that he drafted regular reports for the Iranian ambassador to Venezuela, which included details like the "low morale" in the Guyanese army. The documents he allegedly drafted included a five-year development plan to promote Islam in Guyana, which included references to infiltrating the military, police and other government agencies. Stabroek news (Guyana)
July 25, 2010
The Al-Qaeda Connection
United States prosecutors recently disclosed that former PNC parliamentarian Abdul Kadir had links to Iran as he was once closely connected to the Islamic school in Guyana, whose Iranian head was abducted in April 2004 and later killed. It is the same Islamic school that one of the world's most wanted terrorists, Adnan el- Shukrijumah, was connected to during his stay in Guyana. El-Shukrijumah, a member of al-Qaeda, is wanted by the U.S. for a number of offenses, including the recent plot to blow up New York's subway system.
He has eluded the U.S. authorities for a number of years, hiding out in various countries, Guyana included. In their arrest warrants for the elusive accused terrorist, U.S. authorities have indicated that el-Shukrijumah had in his possession Guyanese and Trinidadian passports, among others. While local authorities had indicated that an investigation would have been launched following the international arrest warrant for the Saudi Arabian-born el-Shukrijumah, there were never any publicized findings of such an investigation.
According to the FBI website, el-Shukrijumah speaks English and carries a Guyanese passport, but may attempt to enter the United States with a Saudi, Canadian, or Trinidadian passport. The website said el-Shukrijumah is wanted in connection with possible terrorist threats against the United States and a $5 million award is up for grabs for information leading directly to his capture.
While on the witness stand during his trial, and that of another accused, Russell Defreitas, for plotting to blow up the JFK airport, Kadir denied accusation by the U.S. that he spent years secretly working as a spy for Iran — passing along information about Guyana's economy, foreign policy and military to Iranian officials.
Kadir admitted under cross-examination that he drafted regular reports for the Iranian ambassador to Venezuela, which included details like the "low morale" in the Guyanese army. The documents he allegedly drafted included a five-year development plan to promote Islam in Guyana, which included references to infiltrating the military, police and other government agencies.
"Is it fair to say that you're a spy for the Iranian government?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall Miller asked Kadir after showing him reports on Guyana that he sent to Iran's ambassador to Venezuela. "No, sir," Kadir answered.
Iran Financing Shiite School in Guyana
It is believed that it was el-Shukrijumah's reported presence in Guyana propelled United States authorities to send informant Steven Francis to Guyana in an attempt to lure the elusive terrorist into the trap of plotting to blow up one of the most well-known airports in the world. But instead, Francis met Kadir, another Guyanese, Abdul Nur -- who has since pleaded guilty to one count of providing support to terrorists -- and later Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim, who has been granted a separate trial because of illness.
Francis visited Guyana in the company of Defreitas, who, according to federal authorities, said he was the mastermind of the plot to blow up the airport, though many have said that this was impossible to execute. Reports are that while he was in Guyana, el-Shukrijmumah was safe and secure under the protection of Swiss House Cambio boss Farouk Razac, who died in May 2007 under mysterious circumstances at his home.
International media outlets described Razac as a radical Sunni who was affiliated with Jamaat ul-Muslimeen, Trinidad's homegrown terrorist group, and served to secure funding for jihadi ventures. It was at the Cambio that el-Shukrijumah met one of Razac's closest clients, Imam Muhammed Hassan Abrahemi, the director of the International Islamic College for Advanced Studies, a small Shiite school in Georgetown that received large amounts of revenue from the government of Iran. And it was there he also allegedly became acquainted with Nur, who ran errands for Razac and Kadir, who served as the assistant director at Abrahemi's Islamic College.
Abrahemi was kidnapped by two masked men as he was leaving the Islamic College on April 2, 2004 and several days later his body was discovered in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Georgetown. While local police launched an intensive investigation, the perpetrators of the crime were never caught; one of Kadir's sons later took over the helm of the college, but it eventually closed its doors. It is believed that undercover agents had provided Kadir and his cohorts, through Francis, with money and logistical support to launch the plot to blow up the jet fuel supply tanks and pipelines that feed fuel to the JFK International Airport in Queens, New York. Kadir earlier this week testified that he feigned interest in the plot as he had hoped that Francis and Defreitas would have hooked him up with rich American Muslims whom he would have approached to fund the building of a mosque in his hometown of Linden.
In reality, the plot was a ploy, since exploding the fuel tanks represented a technical impossibility. Jet fuel does not produce explosive force, and the pipelines and fuel tanks that are buried beneath Queens have safety valves to prevent any mishap. The assumption by federal authorities that they might have lured el-Shukrijumah out of hiding was wrong, as he failed to appear at any of the planning sessions in Trinidad and Guyana. The federal officials were left only with a hefty bill. Stabroek News, Guyana
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