Men on trial over New York 'bomb plot'
Two accused Islamist militants on trial for conspiracy to bomb a New York airport were incited by a government informant, with one being all talk and the other a bystander, their lawyers said in court yesterday.
"These guys have seen too many Bruce Willis movies," defense attorney Mildred Whalen told jurors about Russel Defreitas (67), a naturalised US citizen from Guyana, and Abdul Kadir (58), of Guyana.
The men are charged with conspiring to blow up buildings, fuel tanks and pipelines at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York. The plot was far from operational when they were arrested in June 2007.
In her concluding argument, Ms Whalen said US law enforcement officials wanted to use the plotters to net bigger fish such as accused Caribbean al-Qaeda explosives expert Adnan El-Shukrijumah but no real contact was ever made because Defreitas "was afraid of a real terrorist".
Ms Whalen said Mr Defreitas, hunched in a beige dress shirt, "is a man with a small mind, a big mouth and an ugly imagination" whose ego was stroked and who was egged on by Steven Francis, the government's "smooth operator" informant.
US prosecutors said the men were a threat in themselves and denied law enforcement overreacted.
Assistant US Attorney Marshall Miller said Mr Defreitas and Mr Kadir were "caught red-handed" with their "hand in the cookie jar, with crumbs on their lips".
Two other men were also arrested. Kareem Ibrahim of Trinidad and Tobago was ill and may face trial later, while Abdel Nur of Guyana pleaded guilty last month to a separate charge of giving material support to terrorism and faces up to 15 years in prison.
For four weeks, jurors in US District Judge Dora Irizarry's courtroom watched video clips of the airport filmed by Mr Defreitas and listened to audio recordings of the plotters made by Mr Francis.
Mr Defreitas, a former employee at the airport, provided knowledge of its facilities and layout, prosecutors said, while Kadir, an engineer, helped with technical aspects such as how to blow up the buried fuel pipelines.
Mr Miller argued it did not matter that defense attorneys said Defreitas was a bumbler or that Kadir wanted nothing to do with the attack. Both, he said, were still guilty of plotting "with the intent to commit a terrorist attack."
"Nobody ever told you (the jury) Russel Defreitas was James Bond, Al Capone or Osama bin Laden," Mr Miller said.
The men sought to offer their plans to Jamaat Al Muslimeen, an Islamist extremist group in Trinidad and Tobago that was behind a 1990 coup attempt on the island, Miller said, and also tried to send Kadir to Iran to muster support.
Mr Kadir, arrested on board a flight to Iran via Venezuela, said he was on his way to a religious pilgrimage and was not doing anything related to the plot.