Arrests Made in Plot to Attack JFK Airport

Cross-posted from PoliBlog:

Via ABC News: Feds Claim to Bust N.Y. Airport Terror Plot

Authorities have arrested a former cargo worker at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City who allegedly recruited an FBI informant to help blow up jet fuel tanks and a fuel pipeline at the airport, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Two additional arrestes were made in Trinidad, a law enforcement source said. A source identified the suspect arrested in the United States as Russell Defreitas.

The plotters had “indirect” links to overseas terror elements and the plot had links to Guyana, Trinidad and possibly Germany, a source said.

Officials viewed the alleged plotters as a credible threat, but sources said they apparently did not have the technical savvy to carry out the plot.

The planning for the plot was said to be going on for two to three years but sources claim the alleged plotters were nowhere near any ability to put it into place.

One official said the plan “was not technically feasible.” Officials added that the alleged plotters had no explosives and had not yet figured out a way to get some.

I must confess I am now to the point with these arrests that I have to wonder exactly what we have here. Is this really a “terror” plot or is the work of disgruntled worker? Was this simply the ranting fantasies of a few people or was this some more nefarious plan?

When we are talking about “indirect” links to overseas “terror elements” and the fact that these guys lacks the “technical savvy” to carry out the attack, I lean towards assuming we have here disgruntled cranks.

At a minimum it sound more like the Miami 7 than a serious plot.

The terrorist links seem to be as follows:

Sources said that the plotters several times mentioned the name “Adnan,” and Trinidad and Guyana. That may suggest a link with Adnan Shukrijumah, the son of the imam at the mosque where some of the 9/11 plotters worshipped, although authorities were never able to prove or disprove a link to him.

Shukrijumah, a Saudi, left the United States shortly before 9/11. Shukrijumah is considered extremely dangerous by the FBI and has a $5 million bounty on his head. He’s known to travel on a Guyanese passport and a Trinidadian one as well.

However, A FBI spokesperson in Miami said the squad assigned to Shukrijumah was aware of the case but found “no connection” to the wanted al Qaeda figure. He is believed to be with top al Qaeda leaders along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the FBI spokesperson said.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. randall says:

    It’s very difficult to blow-up an underground petroleum pipeline due to the absence of free oxygen in the system. I work in aviation fuels and I don’t think these guys really know what they are talking about. However we better look at how petroleum products are stored above ground sometimes right next to public roads. Take it from a guy who has spent 27 years on the tarmac, we need to look at who has access to parked airliners after hours late at night. All airlines should closely guard their aircraft while parked overnight, it’s very easy to gain access to them.

  2. davod says:

    stop underestimating the seriousness of these people. This what they said about the Lackawana six and the Fort Hood howevermany.

    I can just imagine them saying the same thing about the 9/11 hijackers if they caught them early. After who would fly aircraft into the WTC and Pentagon.

  3. Hal says:

    stop underestimating the seriousness of these people. This what they said about the Lackawana six and the Fort Hood howevermany.

    It’s like playing 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon. Overestimating your enemy is just as dangerous.