Prosecutor: Give us a secret jury
JFK TERROR PLOT
…fearful of Jamaat Al Muslimeen
It is not done regularly, but the United States Government wants a secret jury to try Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim and three Guyanese on charges of conspiracy to blow up the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York, in 2007. That trial is listed for June.
The US Government speaks of threats against witnesses, the defendants’ close association with the Jamaat Al Muslimeen in Trinidad, and the group’s so-called links with Libya and Iran. The other defendants are Russell de Freitas, who formerly worked at JFK Airport, former Guyanese parliamentarian, Abdul Kadir, and Abdel Nur.
US State prosecutor, Benton Campbell, said since de Freitas’ arrest in June, 2007, at least two inmates previously housed in the same jail with him, reported that he had plotted to cause harm to an anticipated government witness and officers of the court.
One of the inmates, originally from Santo Domingo, was the source of the authorities who entrapped the four defendants, and he reported that de Freitas was “plotting to have a government witness killed and was also attempting to contact co-conspirators still at large in Guyana to warn them about the possibility of arrest and extradition.”
Campbell also pointed out that the defendants’ association with the Jamaat Al Muslimeen (JAM) also raised concerns about juror safety and the integrity of the judicial process.
“JAM has a long history of violence.” Campbell said the Muslimeen and its leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, had links with Libyan leader, Moamar Gaddafi, and other Islamic militant organisations. Campbell, in his submissions to the Brooklyn Federal Court, said the organisation was “notorious for witness tampering and otherwise obstructing the judicial process.”
In a 24-page document, Campbell has applied to Judge Dora Irizarry for an anonymous jury to ensure a fair trial.
The prosecution, he said, hoped to have the jurors semi-sequestered, staying together during the trial, but not kept at a hotel. Their names and addresses would not be revealed, once the prosecution had its way.
In his submission to the court, Campbell had something to say about the four defendants. He said de Freitas, who lived in Queens, New York, was planning an attack for several years, “from the time I worked in the airport before terrorism started in this country.” He said de Freitas met the confidential source and the two travelled to Guyana that same year (2007), and met several other persons to discuss the plot.
He claimed that the two discussed meeting Yasin Abu Bakr, “the leader of the Trinidadian militant group, Jamaat Al Muslimeen, which controlled the ‘underground’ in Trinidad.” When they met with Bakr at a later stage, with the help of Ibrahim, the Trinidadian had expressed an interest, but they had no further meetings.
Campbell said de Freitas got photographs and video footage of the tanks at JFK Airport, and how he and his source later met Nur in Guyana and they spoke about the type of explosives they could use to blow up the fuel tanks and pipelines. Campbell said Kadir was someone who had “connections with militants in Iran and Venezuela,” and when shown footage of the airport, expressed interest in furthering the plot, but “needed a few weeks to contact some associates who would probably help them.” He continued: “Kadir informed de Freitas and the source that his associates had their own rules of engagement, and wanted to reduce the killing of innocents, such as women and children.” Campbell pointed out that Kadir suggested that the explosions take place in the morning hours, so that the damage would primarily be economic in nature.
He also instructed that the information be placed on a thumb drive, and that the plot should be code-named ‘the chicken hatchery” or “chicken farm” for future communications.
Turning to Ibrahim, Campbell said the Trinidadian had stated that he would send one of his “trusted associates to present the plot” to his contacts in Iran and/or the United Kingdom who were connected with the “revolutionary movement” in Iran. De freitas, according to Campbell, said if any money was collected from individuals in Iran or elsewhere to help fund the plot, it should be kept in an account controlled by Kadir, who agreed later for money to be placed in his mosque account.
The United States Government is contending that the defendants performed physical surveillance, made video recordings of JFK Airport, its buildings and facilities, located satellite images of JFK Airport and its buildings and facilities on the Internet, and sought expert advice, financing and explosives. On or about June 1, 2007, warrants were issued in the Eastern District of New York for the arrests of Kadir, de Freitas, Ibrahim and Nur.
De Freitas was arrested in New York, pursuant to an extradition treaty between the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. The United States requested that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago execute provisional arrest warrants against defendants Kadir, Ibrahim and Nur, all of whom were in Trinidad and Tobago on June 1, 2007. Trinidadian law enforcement officials arrested Kadir on June 1, 2007, at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad, as he was attempting to travel through Venezuela to Iran.