Latest NYC terror scare linked to attempted coup in Trinidad

Security forces in Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago worked closely with US authorities to hunt down the men behind a supposed plot to blow up JFK International Airport in New York City. The arrest of three suspects was announced June 2: Russell Defreitas, a Guyana-born US citizen; Abdul Kadir, a former parliamentarian in Guyana; and Kareem Ibrahim of Trinidad. A fourth, Abdul Nur of Guyana, remains at large. (The Guardian, UK, Nation News, Guyana, June 3)

The men supposedly also planned to blow up a 40-mile jet fuel pipeline that winds its way from a facility in Linden, NJ, through Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens on its way to Kennedy Airport. The plot, which the men code-named “Chicken Farm,” was foiled “well before it came to fruition,” authorities said, admitting the men had not obtained the explosives or financing to carry out their plan. “The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable,” US Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf nonetheless told a news conference, calling it “one of the most chilling plots imaginable.” (Newsday, June 3)

Authorities said two of the men in the supposed plot were associates of Jamaat al Muslimeen, an Islamist Black nationalist group in Trinidad, and sought out its leadership for “operational expertise, means and, most importantly, their blessing.” Jamaat al Muslimeen is best known for its attempted coup d’etat in 1990, when it stormed the Trinidadian Parliament and took the island nation’s prime minister hostage. The attempted coup set off six days of rioting and looting in Port of Spain that left 24 dead, and ended with the surrender of Jamaat’s leadership in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The group was subsequently linked to a series of bombings in Port of Spain in 2005. That year, a Jamaat member was convicted in Miami of attempting to ship 70 assault rifles from Fort Lauderdale to Trinidad. Most recently, Jamaat al Muslimeen’s leader, Imam Yasin Abu Bakr, was put on trial for the attempted murder of two former Jamaat members—a famously botched plot that resulted in the killing of a woman with no ties to the organization. Abu Bakr was acquitted, but he still faces sedition and terrorism charges stemming from a 2005 sermon, televised from his mosque, in which he threatened “war” on wealthy Muslims if they did not contribute a percentage of their income to charity. It is the first case brought under Trinidad’s new Anti-Terrorism Act.

Jamaat al Muslimeen, or “Society of Muslims,” was founded in the 1980s and is believed to have several hundred members. It is composed almost entirely of Black converts to Islam, who make up a small fraction of Trinidad’s Muslim minority, dominated by East Indian immmigrants. (Newark Star-Ledger, AP, June 1)

We note that most of the recent terrorism cases in the New York metro area have been alarmingly specious, and we wonder if these guys weren’t just bad-assing.

  1. Right on cue…
    …the conservative Counterterrorism Blog starts squacking about the threat of “homegrown terrorism.” Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Until someone demonstrates otherwise, we think these poor schmucks were blowhards—not terrorists. And a word of wisdom to all you blowhards out there: Be careful—the enemy is listening.

  2. Jamaat al-Muslimeen denies it
    From, June 5:

    Jamaat al-Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, speaking at a press conference, said his group had nothing to do with the so-called plot to bomb JFK International Airport in New York.

    Speaking with the Associated Press, Imam Bakr said he knows nothing about the alleged plot which has lead to the arrest of three Caribbean nationals, two from Guyana and one from Trinidad and Tobago.

    It is alleged that the men were seeking support from the Jamaat al-Muslimeen here in Trinidad and Tobago. There are many references to the Jamaat in the complaint which has been issued by the US authorities. But the Imam said he has nothing to do with the matter and he knows not of what is being printed and published.

  3. Like we said, specious…
    From Newsday, June 6:

    When U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf described the alleged terror plot to blow up Kennedy Airport as “one of the most chilling plots imaginable,” which might have caused “unthinkable” devastation, one law enforcement official said he cringed.

    The plot, he knew, was never operational. The public had never been at risk. And the notion of blowing up the airport, let alone the borough of Queens, by exploding a fuel tank was in all likelihood a technical impossibility.

    And now, with a portrait emerging of alleged mastermind Russell Defreitas as hapless and episodically homeless, and of co-conspirator Abdel Nur as a drug addict, Mauskopf’s initial characterizations seem more questionable — some go so far as to say hyped.

    “I think her comments were over the top,” said Michael Greenberger, director of the Center for Health and Homeland Security at the University of Maryland. “It was a totally overstated characterization that doesn’t comport with the facts.”

    Read more