Thank God! Terror Plot in NY Thwarted
May 21, 2009 10:39am CST
After a year long investigation, arrests have been made and a plot to bomb A synogogue and temple in the Bronx and shoot military planes down from the sky in Newbrurgh, NY has been stopped before it could happen. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,520908,00.html N.Y. Police: Terror Suspects Wanted to 'Commit Jihad' Thursday, May 21, 2009 Four men sought to wage a holy war against America when they plotted to bomb two New York City synagogues and shoot down military planes in upstate New York, authorities said Thursday. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters that James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen of Newburgh, N.Y., "wanted to commit Jihad" and were angry about Muslims being killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. military forces. The men allegedly planned to detonate a car with plastic explosives outside the Riverdale Temple, a Reform synagogue, and an Orthodox synagogue called the Riverdale Jewish Center, located a few blocks apart in the Bronx. They also intended to shoot military planes at the Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., with Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles, authorities said. The men were arrested Wednesday night, shortly after placing a 37-pound device they thought was an explosive in the trunk of a car outside the Riverdale Temple and two mock bombs in the backseat of a car outside the Riverdale Jewish Center, authorities said. Police blocked their escape with an 18-wheel truck, smashing their tinted SUV windows and apprehending the unarmed suspects. The four 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. "If Jews were killed in this attack … that would be all right," Kelly quoted one of the accused terrorists as saying. The suspects are due in federal court on Thursday in White Plains, N.Y. Cromitie, David Williams and Onta Williams are native-born Americans; Payen was born in Haiti and is a Haitian citizen, according to authorities. Kelly said he believed the men knew each other through prison. Three of them are converts to Islam, an official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press. Payen occasionally attended a Newburgh mosque, according to Assistant Imam Hamin Rashada, who met Payen through a program that helps prisoners re-enter society. The arrests came following a nearly yearlong undercover operation that began in Newburgh, about 70 miles north of New York City. Asked why the suspects chose to target synagogues in the Bronx's Riverdale section, Kelly alluded to the proximity to highways, saying it could have been a fast getaway for the suspects. The defendants "wanted to engage in terrorist attacks," said acting U.S. Attorney Lev L. Dassin. "While the weapons provided ... by the cooperating witness were fake, the defendants thought they were absolutely real." Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned against stereotypes, stressing that Riverdale Temple is open to people of all faiths, including a Muslim girl who sometimes prays there. Bloomberg, Kelly and other city leaders met privately with congregants early Thursday to alleviate security concerns. "The shock and being floored was followed by relief," David Winter, executive director of the Riverdale Jewish Center, said afterward. Kelly said the uniformed officers who flooded the neighborhood were there to improve residents' "comfort level," even though "No one was at risk. This was a very tightly controlled operation." The mayor said the alleged plot 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." According to a criminal complaint, Cromitie began working with an FBI informant in June 2008 when he told the official that his parents had lived in Afghanistan and he was upset with the ongoing war there, including the deaths of many Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. military forces. Cromitie said he wanted to return to Afghanistan and told the informant about how he'd go to "paradise" if he died a martyr, the complaint said. He also expressed an interest in doing "something to America," according to the complaint. The following month, Cromitie and the informant discussed a Pakistan-based terror organization called Jaish-e-Mohammed that the informant claimed to be affiliated with. In April 2009, Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Payen identified the synagogues they wanted to hit and began conducting surveillance of them as well as of the Air National Guard Base where they intended to strike military planes with Stinger missiles. The informant supplied them with a missile he said he'd obtained from Jaish-e-Mohammed, but instead, it was an FBI-made device that wasn't capable of being fired, according to the complaint. Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Payen are each charged with one count of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the U.S., which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and one count of conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. The defendants were jailed Wednesday night. Reporters yelled questions at three of the four men — Cromitie and David and Onta Williams — as they were taken in handcuffs into the Metropolitan Correctional Center, but the men didn't respond. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told FOX News that former President Bush and the Department of Homeland Security should be credited for keeping the country safe following the Sept. 11 attacks. "Maybe the Bush administration might deserve a little credit for the fact that there's not been another attack on the United States of America since 9/11," McCain told FOX News. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said if there can be any good news out of this case it's that "the group was relatively unsophisticated, penetrated early and not connected to any outside group." One Newburgh resident who lived near Payen described the 21-year-old parolee as a "strange kid." “He had a lot of psychological problems," Hamin Rashada told the Times Herald-Record. Since serving a 15-month prison term, Payen lived alternatively in Newburgh and Middletown in upstate New York, with occasional stints on the street. Rashada told the paper he met Payen through the Orange County Transition Center, a program that helps re-integrate parolees back into society. A senior life coach with the program, Rashada worked with Payen and encouraged him to attend Friday prayers at Masjid al-Ikhlas in Newburgh, where Rashada is an assistant imam, according to the Herald-Record. But Payen only attended the Newburgh mosque occasionally, Rashada told the paper. He said he assumed the former inmate must have been introduced to Islam in prison, where misunderstandings of its philosophies can occur because educated teachers can be difficult to find. When he did attend, Rashada said Payen would try to impress other members of the mosque with knowledge of Islam, but was often incorrect. Payen would then become quiet and wander off, Rashada told the paper. A Jewish human rights group issued a statement saying the alleged plot and arrests show that Jews in the United States aren't safe. "The shocking plan to blow up a Jewish house of prayer with what the jihadist terrorists thought were C-4 explosives is dramatic proof that the dangers from such fanaticism have not passed and that American Jews must maintain their vigilance," the Simon Wiesenthal Center said. *** I don't know about you, but I am really glad these people were stopped before another terror attck could be committed on our soil. America must remain vigilant against threats to us from abroad and here at home.
• United States
21 May 09
It seems that 9/11 was a real wake-up call saying that attacks do not need to be launched from outside the borders of the United States. This also shows that law enforcement is still good & alert, probably the result of the previous plot to bomb JFK Airport. Let's hope that whatever terror plots that start up get stopped before it happens.
• United States
21 May 09
Why is NY city always on the target list? Don't these idiots know there are other spots to destroy. I could sent them Briney Spears home address. *eyeroll* I'm glad they were stopped... it means someone is doing their job.
• United States
21 May 09
NYC is considered the crossroads of the world, and is heavily populated. It also has a large Jewish population, which I'm sure has a lot to do with why the jihadist jackasses keep targeting it. I am glad we've got folks who are still paying attention and working to keep us safe.