Friday, May 27, 2011

Terrorism: Imam from Trinidad Convicted of Conspiracy to Launch Terrorist Attack at JFK Airport

U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

Following a four-week jury trial, Kareem Ibrahim was convicted today in the Eastern District of New York of conspiring to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, by exploding fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline under the airport. The defendant believed the attack would cause extensive damage to the airport and to the United States economy, as well as the loss of innocent lives. The defendant faces a sentence of up to life in prison. Sentencing has been scheduled for October 21, 2011.

The convictions were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Janice K. Fedarcyk, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York.

The evidence at trial established that Kareem Ibrahim, an Imam and leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago, provided religious instruction and operational support to a group plotting to commit a terrorist attack at JFK Airport. The plot originated with Russell Defreitas, a naturalized United States citizen from Guyana, who drew on his prior experience working at JFK Airport as a cargo handler to plan the attack on its fuel tanks and fuel pipeline. Beginning in 2006, Defreitas recruited others to join the plot, including the defendant Kareem Ibrahim, Abdel Nur and Abdul Kadir, a former member of parliament in Guyana.

In May 2007, Defreitas presented defendant Kareem Ibrahim with video surveillance and satellite imagery of the targets for terrorist attack because Ibrahim had connections with militant leaders in Iran. During cross-examination at trial, Ibrahim admitted that he advised the plotters to present the plot to revolutionary leaders in Iran and to use operatives ready to engage in suicide attacks at the airport. On one of the recorded conversations entered into evidence, Ibrahim told Defreitas that the attackers must be ready to “fight it out, kill who you could kill and go back to Allah.”

According to the trial evidence, the conspirators also attempted to enlist support for the plot from prominent international terrorist groups and leaders, including Adnan El Shukrijumah, an al Qaeda leader and explosives expert, and Yasin Abu Bakr, leader of the Trinidadian militant group Jamaat Al Muslimeen. Ultimately, the plotters followed Ibrahim’s direction and sent Abdul Kadir to meet with his contacts in the Iranian revolutionary leadership, including Mohsen Rabbani, the former cultural attache indicted for his leading role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Kareem Ibrahim, Nur and Kadir were arrested in Trinidad in June 2007, with Kadir aboard a plane headed to Venezuela, en route to Iran. All three were subsequently extradited to the United States. Defreitas was arrested in New York. After a trial in 2010, Russell Defreitas and Abdul Kadir were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Nur pleaded guilty before trial to supporting the plot and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The specific charges Ibrahim was convicted of are: conspiracy to attack a public transportation system, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f; conspiracy to destroy a building by fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(n); conspiracy to attack aircraft and aircraft materials, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 32; conspiracy to destroy international airport facilities, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 37; and conspiracy to attack a mass transportation facility, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1992(a)(10).

“In pursuit of a radical terrorist agenda, bent on the destruction of John F. Kennedy Airport and the murder of innocent civilians, Imam Kareem Ibrahim abandoned the true tenets of his religion,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “We will continue to seek out and bring to justice all those who plot to attack the United States and its people.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York for its role in investigating and assisting in the prosecution of the case, as well as to the Guyanese and Trinidadian law enforcement authorities who assisted with the investigation and apprehension of the defendants.

“Ibrahim and his co-conspirators had elaborate plans to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport, not only to cause carnage, but also to damage the economy,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Fedarcyk. “Today’s guilty verdict is not only a victory for the American justice system, it is also a rejection of the extremist ideology he supported.”

The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Marshall L. Miller, Berit W. Berger and Zainab Ahmad.

The Defendant:
KAREEM IBRAHIM, also known as “Amir Kareem” and “Winston Kingston”
Age: 65