The jihad on America is not over, even if the war on terror is.
The suspected leader of the plot (pictured below) is – the son of an Afghani immigrant)* – is nicknamed “Abdul Rahman” and stated the best target, the World Trade Center had already been hit. A possible namesake of The Blind Sheikh – Omar Abdel-Rahman – who was convicted in connection with the first World Trade Center bombing. Abdul Rahman told an informant he’d one day like to return to Afghanistan and die a martyr. Background on the Pakistani ISI-created terror group he claimed to be connected to, Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of the Prophet), here.
WASHINGTON – Four men have been arrested in a plot to attack several targets in the New York City area, including synagogues, federal and local authorities told NBC News Wednesday.
Authorities said the four men have long been under investigation and there was little danger they could actually have carried out their plan, NBC’s Pete Williams reported.
Investigators say the four, described as Black Muslims from the Bronx, had planned to place bombs at various targets. But New York city police and federal agents got wind of the plot and kept the men under careful surveillance.
In fact, officials say, the men recently bought what they thought were explosives, which they put in storage lockers outside the city. But what the men did not know is that the material they bought was actually harmless, sold to them by informants posing as explosives dealers.
Officials emphasize that the men never had actual bombs and could not have pulled off any attack.
Two years ago, two Muslims pleaded guilty to plotting to attack synagogues in Los Angeles. But officials said that they knew of no connection between those arrests and this latest plot in New York.
The FBI arrested four men Wednesday in what authorities called a plot to detonate a bomb outside a Jewish temple and to shoot military planes with guided missiles.
Officials told The Associated Press the arrests came after a long-running undercover operation that began in Newburgh, N.Y., about 70 miles north of New York City.
James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The men had planned to detonate a car with plastic explosives outside a temple in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale and to shoot military planes at the New York Air National Guard base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh with Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles, authorities said.
The investigation had been under way for about a year.
Rep. Peter King, the senior Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, was briefed on the case following the arrests.
“This was a long, well-planned investigation, and it shows how real the threat is from homegrown terrorists,” said King, of New York.
Federal authorities announced the arrests of James Cromitie — a.k.a “Abdul Rahman,” David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, on charges arising from a plot to detonate explosives near a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and to shoot military planes located at the New York Air National Guard Base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh with Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles.
The suspects were arrested shortly after planting a mock explosive device in the trunk of a car outside the Riverdale Temple and two mock bombs in the backseat of a car outside the Jewish Center, authorities said.
Cromitie is the son of an Afghani immigrant and his African-American wife. It is that connection to Afghanistan, investigators say, and an unhappiness with America’s ongoing war efforts abroad that allegedly drove him to become a terrorist.
In their efforts to obtain weapons, the defendants dealt with an informant acting under law enforcement supervision, and the FBI and other agencies monitored the defendants’ actions up to the time of arrest, including providing an inactive missile and inert explosives to the informant for the defendants. The Feds told CBS 2 HD’s Lou Young they picked up the inert weapons at a meeting in Stamford, Conn., and during the last few days secured small arms, including assorted handguns.
In talking to the FBI informant, Cromitie expressed interest in one day returning to Afghanistan, of dying a “martyr” and wanting to do “something to America”. When discussing the best targets, Cromitie allegedly told the infomant, “the best target (the World Trade Center) was hit already. When the conversation turned to attacking a synagogue, Cromitie allegedly said, “I hate those Jewish “expletie.” I would like to get a synagogue.
“This latest attempt to attack our freedoms shows that the homeland security threats against New York City are sadly all too real and underscores why we must remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent terrorism,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.
The feds also said had the weapons been real and the plan hatched successfully, the damage to the Riverdale area around the synagogue would have been devastating.
The idea was to create a “fireball that would make the country gasp,” one law enforcement said.
The suspects – three U.S.-born citizens and one Haitian immigrant – at least three of whom were said to be jailhouse converts to Islam, were angry about the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan, sources told The News.
“They wanted to make a statement,” a law enforcement source said. “They were filled with rage and wanted to take it out on what they considered the source of all problems in America – the Jews.”The undercover informant who promised to arm them posed as a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed, an anti-India Pakistani group with connections to Al Qaeda, said Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the New York FBI field office.The undercover informant who promised to arm them posed as a member of Jaish-e-Mohammed, an anti-India Pakistani group with connections to Al Qaeda, said Joseph Demarest, assistant director of the New York FBI field office.
According to the criminal complaint, Cromitie said “I hate those f-ing Jewish bastards.” He bragged that it would be a “piece of cake” to bomb a Jewish Center in Riverdale, according to the complaint.
He said his father lives in Afghanistan and he was upset about U.S. military presence there.
The fact that this type of hatred exists means that we all have to be vigilant all of the time,” city councilman Jeffrey Dinowitz said Thursday.
Cromitie was the first to approach the informant, authorities said. He told the informant he has ties to the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad. Authorities said Cromitie had 27 past arrests and had recently been working at a nation-wide discount retailer, authorities said.
Several of the suspects have previously been arrested on drug charges and may have converted to Islam in prison, authorities said.
The four men allegedly would meet in a safe house in Newburgh, which authorities said they had bugged with audio and video equipment.
The suspects said they wanted to get their hands on stinger missiles to shoot down planes at the nearby Air National Guard Base at Stewart Airport, according to a criminal complaint unsealed late Wednesday. The suspects also received what they believed were two stinger missiles which they intended to use to shoot down military planes, the complaint said. They also bought cell phones to allegedly use in the plot.Since the 9/11 attacks, authorities have arrested suspects in a number of alleged plots against area targets, including the Fort Dix New Jersey military base, John F. Kennedy Airport, the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Last December, a New Jersey jury convicted five foreign-born men, living and working in the area for years, of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers at Ft. Dix. Three were brothers from Yugoslavia; the others were born in Jordan and Turkey. The FBI arrested them after 15 months of surveillance after they tried to buy AK-47s and M-16s. The men had claimed they were set up by an unscrupulous informant.
In June 2007, four alleged Muslim extremists — a 63-year-old former JFK airport cargo employee living in Brooklyn and three others from Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago — were charged with plotting to blow up fuel lines and gas tanks at the busy Queens airport. All four have pleaded not guilty.
Two men were convicted of plotting to bomb the Herald Square station including a Pakistani immigrant Shahawar Matin Siraj. He is serving 30 years in federal prison for conspiring to blow up the subway station on the eve of the 2004 Republican National Convention in nearby Madison Square Garden.
*Update: Initial reports indicated Cromitie was the son of Afghan immigrants; a separate report states his parents lived in Afghanistan before he was born – will update upon verification.
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