Four arrested in New York terrorism plot: Prosecutors (Lead)

May 21st, 2009 - 11:58 am ICT by IANS  

New York, May 21 (DPA) Four men have been taken into custody in New York in an alleged plot to bomb a Jewish target in the city’s Bronx borough and to shoot down military aircraft at a New York air base, federal authorities said late Wednesday.
The four men allegedly planned to blow up a car with plastic explosives outside a synagogue in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighbourhood.

They also hoped to use a missile against planes at the New York Air National Guard base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, about 100 km north of New York City, officials said.

Federal prosecutors said an informant under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Investigation helped provide the suspects with an inactive Stinger missile and inert explosives.

In an interview on CNN, Congressman Peter King of New York said the attack was planned to be carried out Wednesday night when the arrests were made. He labelled the suspects “homegrown terrorists”.

Lev Dassin, acting US attorney for the Southern District of New York, identified the men as James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen.

They were expected to appear Thursday in federal court, facing charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles. Each defendant could face life in prison.

“The defendants wanted to engage in terrorist attacks,” Dassin said. “They selected targets and sought the weapons necessary to carry out their plans.

“Fortunately, the defendants sought the assistance of a witness cooperating with the government. While the weapons provided to the defendants by the cooperating witness were fake, the defendants thought they were absolutely real.”

The federal criminal complaint alleged that the case began when Cromitie expressed to the informant a desire to do “something to America”. The informant later claimed involvement with the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is designated by the US as a foreign terrorist organization.

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