Four convicted of plotting to bomb New York synagogues
19 October 2010
Four men have been convicted in New York of plotting to bomb two synagogues and shoot down military aircraft. Their plot was monitored throughout by the FBI, who supplied them with fake explosives:
Four men have today been found guilty of 30 out of 32 counts stemming from the May 2009 plot to bomb two Bronx synagogues and shoot down military aircraft at a National Guard airbase in Newburgh, New York.
James Cromitie had been accused of scheming with a government informant he met at a mosque in Newburgh but the plot was foiled by a perfectly executed FBI sting.
Prosecutors said Cromitie recruited the three co-defendants David Williams, 29, Onta Williams,29, and Laguerre Payen,28, to fire heat-seeking missiles at cargo planes and blow them out of the sky.
In what was was called a terrorism version of Big Brother, the accused architects of the bomb plot were followed and listened to by law enforcement officials at all times.
The Muslim converts were under constant surveillance from early on in their plans until they were busted by cops last year.
The sting apparently never put New Yorkers at risk but the defendants 'thought this was real - real bombs, real missiles - every step of the way', according to Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin.
The trial featured 13 days of testimony by undercover mole, Shahed Hussain who met Cromitie at a mosque north of New York City.
The paid FBI informant helped make hundreds of hours of audio and video tapes between the terrorists which were given to officials and used as evidence.
The defence had argued that the government entrapped their clients but the prosecution were determined to avoid the complication that has derailed previous terror cases and took necessary steps to avoid that.
The Feds had assigned Hussain in 2008 to infiltrate a mosque in Newburgh. After meeting Cromitie, the 53-year-old Pakistani immigrant told him he was a representative of a Pakistani terror organisation that was eager to finance a holy war on U.S. soil.
Prosecutors alleged that in meetings with Hussain, 44-year-old Cromitie hatched the scheme to blow up the synagogues in the Bronx with remote-controlled bombs.
They also recruited Williams, Williams and Payen to help him shoot down cargo planes at the Air National Guard base in Newburgh, 60 miles north of New York City, with heat-seeking missiles.
Agents arrested the men in 2009 after they planted the devices - fakes supplied by the FBI - in the Riverdale section of the Bronx while under heavy surveillance.
In one of several videos played at trial, the men could be seen practicing with a shoulder missile launcher and praying together in a bugged warehouse in Connecticut two weeks before the planned attack.
Other tapes showed Cromitie ranting against Jews and expressing his desire to retaliate against U.S. military aggression in the Middle East saying, 'I'm ready to do this dam thing. Anything for the cause'.
Government informant Hussain testified that Cromitie was a man that 'hated Jews and Jewish people'.
He said Cromitie also 'hated American soldiers and the American government. He was full of hateful against those subjects'.
Authorities listened as Cromitie talked at a mosque about doing 'something to America' and 'doing Jihad' as well as deciding on targets but saying that 'the best target was hit already' - referring to the World Trade Center.