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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 June 2007, 02:56 GMT 03:56 UK
Four charged over JFK 'bomb plot'
John F Kennedy airport in New York City - file photo
JFK's fuel tanks and pipeline were the target of the alleged plot
Four people have been charged in the US over a plot to bomb John F Kennedy airport in New York, US officials said.

They include a former cargo worker and a former MP for the Caribbean nation of Guyana. One of the suspects is a fugitive, believed to be in Trinidad.

The plot, which did not go past the planning stages, involved blowing up the airport's fuel tanks and pipeline, justice department officials said.

One arrest was in New York and the other two took place in Trinidad.

The four men are charged with conspiring to bomb one of the busiest airports in the United States.

It was "one of the most chilling plots imaginable," US attorney Roslynn Mauskopf told a news conference.

"Had the plot been carried out, it could have resulted in unfathomable damage, deaths and destruction."

Police and Justice Department officials announce the arrests in New York
US attorney Roslynn Mauskopf (centre) said the plot was "chilling"
The pipeline is 40 miles (64km) long and carries jet fuel from New Jersey and through the New York boroughs of Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens.

The pipeline serves two other airports in the area - LaGuardia and Newark Liberty.

The FBI said the alleged plot never got beyond the planning stages and there was no threat to air safety or to the public, but that the group's intentions were never in doubt.

"One clear signature of this cell was its persistence, they consistently worked to refine their plot," said Mark Mershon of the FBI's New York office.

"They took extensive measures to seek expert advice, finances and explosives."

Airport videotaped

The former JFK cargo worker was arrested in Brooklyn late on Friday and named as Russell Defreitas, originally from Guyana.

Artist's sketch of Russell Defreitas, centre, in court
Defreitas (centre) appeared in court on Saturday

Mr Defreitas was arraigned in New York City on Saturday afternoon, but did not enter a plea.

He is to be held pending a bail hearing on Wednesday, US prosecutors said.

Guyanese citizen Abdul Kadir, a former member of Guyana's parliament, and Kareem Ibrahim, from Trinidad, are in custody in Trinidad and Tobago.

Abdul Nur, from Guyana, is still being sought and is believed to be in Trinidad and Tobago.

The alleged plot was brought to light when Mr Defreitas recruited an FBI informant to help him in the plan, officials said.

Any time you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States
Alleged statement by Russell Defreitas

The alleged plotters conducted surveillance of the airport, including videotaping their targets and downloading satellite images from the internet, officials said.

The informant recorded some of the conversations he had with Mr Defreitas.

"Any time you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States," Mr Defreitas said, according to a recording played to reporters.

"To hit John F Kennedy, wow... they love John F Kennedy like he's the man... if you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. You can kill the man twice."

Landmarks targeted

In another recorded conversation the suspect was alleged to have said: "Even the twin towers can't touch it," referring to the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York City on 11 September 2001 that killed more than 3,000 people.

"This can destroy the economy of America for some time," Mr Defreitas was alleged to have said.

The arrests are the latest in a series of alleged plots targeting American facilities and landmarks.

Six men were arrested last month on charges of plotting to attack Fort Dix army base in the state of New Jersey.

Three people were arrested in July last year outside the US in connection with a plan to suicide bomb the tunnel under the Hudson River connecting Manhattan with New Jersey.

And in June 2006, seven suspects were charged over an alleged plot to destroy the country's tallest building - the Sears Tower in Chicago.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
US authorities reveal details of their investigation



SEE ALSO
Key terrorism trial starts in US
14 May 07 |  Americas
Arrests over US army base 'plot'
09 May 07 |  Americas
Three held over NY tunnel 'plot'
08 Jul 06 |  Americas
Chicago plot suspects denied bail
05 Jul 06 |  Americas
US fears home-grown terror threat
24 Jun 06 |  Americas
Country profile: United States of America
25 May 07 |  Country profiles

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