US & Canada

Final suspect convicted of JFK airport plot in New York

Fuel tanks at JFK airport
Image caption Ibrahim was convicted on five counts for a failed plot to blow up pipelines and fuel tanks at JFK airport

A former leader of the Shia Muslim community in Trinidad has been convicted of taking part in a failed plot to blow up fuel tanks and pipelines at JFK airport in New York.

Kareem Ibrahim was convicted of five conspiracy counts in the plot, which officials say was meant to outdo 9/11.

Russell Defreitas and Abdul Kadir are serving life sentences after also being convicted for their roles.

Ibrahim, 65, also faces life in prison. His sentencing is due on 21 October.

Prosecutors said the men had wanted to kill thousands in New York and shake the US economy by blowing up fuel tanks and pipelines that run under a neighbourhood near the airport.

The scheme was uncovered when an informant recorded a discussion about the planned attack between Kadir and Defreitas, who began preparations for the attack in 2006.

Defreitas, a 68-year-old former cargo handler, and Kadir, a former member of Guyana's parliament, were convicted on conspiracy charges in August 2010.

'Religious instruction'

Federal prosecutors on Thursday accused Ibrahim, who was previously found too ill to stand trial, of offering religious instruction and operational support in the plot, after joining Defreitas and Kadir in May 2007.

The imam admitted that he advised Kadir and Defreitas to use operatives ready for suicide missions at the airport.

"They must be able to fight out. Kill who you could kill and go back to Allah," Ibrahim said.

But during closing arguments, Ibrahim's defence lawyer, Michael Hueston, told the jury his client did not intend to carry out the attack.

"I just went along and hoped it would fizzle out," Ibrahim testified.

The imam was convicted on five charges, which include conspiracy to attack a public transportation system and conspiracy to destroy international airport facilities.

In August 2010, Defreitas and Kadir were also accused of seeking the help of militant Muslims and at least one al-Qaeda operative in the Caribbean.

A fourth man, Abdel Nur, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January.

More on this story