June 4, 2007
The New York Times

Papers Portray Plot as More Talk Than Action

by Michael Powell and William K. Rashbaum

The plot as painted by law enforcement officials was cataclysmic: A home-grown Islamic terrorist had in mind detonating fuel storage tanks and pipelines and setting fire to Kennedy International Airport, not to mention a substantial swath of Queens.

"Had the plot been carried out, it could have resulted in unfathomable damage, deaths and destruction," Roslynn R. Mauskopf, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, said in a news release that announced charges against four men. She added at a news conference, "The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded are just unthinkable." . . .

But the criminal complaint filed by the federal authorities against the four defendants in the case - one of them, Abdel Nur, remained at large yesterday - suggests a less than mature terror plan, a proposed effort longer on evil intent than on operational capability. . . .

At its heart was a 63-year-old retired airport cargo worker, Russell M. Defreitas, who the complaint says talked of his dreams of inflicting massive harm, but who appeared to possess little money, uncertain training and no known background in planning a terror attack.

"Capability low, intent very high," a law enforcement official said of the suspects.

Some law enforcement officials and engineers also dismissed the notion that the planned attack could have resulted in a catastrophic chain reaction; system safeguards, they said, would have stopped explosions from spreading. . . .

There is, too, the question of the role played by the unidentified undercover informant who befriended Mr. Defreitas.

The informant is a convicted drug trafficker, and his sentence is pending as part of his cooperation agreement with the federal government, said the authorities. . . .


[Google Earth appears to show that the fuel tanks are about 1.5 miles away from the nearest terminal at JFK airport. A fire there may disrupt air traffic, but is not likely to endanger the JFK terminal and passengers.--Editor]

[Picture a society where the government employs thousands of its citizens to inform on their friends, family members, and business associates; where tens of millions of dollars in government funds are spent annually paying those who inform; where police obtain warrants to search and seize private property based on reports from hidden sources; where the only way to win early release from prison is to tell stories about others.

Welcome to the United States, 1995.-- Michael Curriden, "The Informant Trap: Secret Threat to Justice," PBS Frontline, March 20, 1995]

Enver Masud, "$1 Million for Witnesses in Embassy Bombing Trial," The Wisdom Fund, June 1, 2001

Rupert Cornwell, "Sears Tower Plot Was Not All That It Seemed," Independent, June 25, 2006

"'Airlines Terror Plot' Disrupted," BBC News, August 10, 2006

[Olbermann concludes that if these occasions are more than just coincidences then, he says, "it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country, questions about what is prudence and what is fear-mongering."--"Olbermann: 'The Nexus of politics and terror',", August 15, 2006]

Brian Doherty, "Post-9/11 Prosecutions End With a Whimper," Reason, September 11, 2006

Zbigniew Brzezinski, "Terrorized by 'War on Terror'," Washington Post, March 25, 2007

[There was no specific intention to target flights or passengers, officials said, though deaths and extensive damage would have been likely in an explosion involving millions of gallons of jet fuel. The principal aim of the plot was apparently to shut down the busy airport and raise new fears about flying into the US. The plot was in its earliest stages and the suspects had not yet bought explosives, but were described as 'determined' by the FBI.--Joanna Walters, "Three held, one sought for bomb plot at JFK airport," Observer, June 3, 2007]

[Oil industry experts said safety shut-off valves would almost assuredly have prevented an exploding airport fuel tank from igniting all or even part of the network.--Cara Buckley and William K. Rashbaum, "4 Accused of Plot to Blow Up Facilities at Kennedy Airport," New York Times, June 3, 2007]

[Pipeline operator Buckeye Partners L.P. said it had been cooperating with authorities since the investigation started in January 2006.

Spokesman Roy Haase declined to comment on security measures but said speculation the plotters hoped to destroy large parts of the pipeline were unrealistic, since any damage would be confined to the area where fuel leaked and the pipeline was almost entirely underground.

"There's no oxygen in the pipeline. It's completely full of liquid and you need oxygen for ignition," Haase said.--Chris Michaud, "Four charged in plot to blow up JFK airport," Reuters, June 3, 2007]

Marc Lacey, "Trinidad Group Denies Link to New York Bomb Plot," New York Times, June 10, 2007

[The recently publicized terrorist plot to blow up John F. Kennedy International Airport, like so many of the terrorist plots over the past few years, is a study in alarmism and incompetence: on the part of the terrorists, our government and the press.

. . . "The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable," U.S. Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf said at a news conference, calling it "one of the most chilling plots imaginable." Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) added, "It had the potential to be another 9/11." . . .

The "Miami 7," caught last year for plotting - among other things - to blow up the Sears Tower, were another incompetent group: no weapons, no bombs, no expertise, no money and no operational skill. And don't forget Iyman Faris, the Ohio trucker who was convicted in 2003 for the laughable plot to take out the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch. At least he eventually decided that the plan was unlikely to succeed. . . .

The JFK Airport plotters seem to have been egged on by an informant, a twice-convicted drug dealer. An FBI informant almost certainly pushed the Fort Dix plotters to do things they wouldn't have ordinarily done. The Miami gang's Sears Tower plot was suggested by an FBI undercover agent who infiltrated the group. And in 2003, it took an elaborate sting operation involving three countries to arrest an arms dealer for selling a surface-to-air missile to an ostensible Muslim extremist. Entrapment is a very real possibility in all of these cases.--Bruce Schneier, "Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot," Wired, June 14, 2007]

Tim Dickinson, "Truth or Terrorism? The Real Story Behind Five Years of High Alerts,", January 22, 2008

VIDEO: "Olbermann Timeline: How The Bush Administration Exploited Terror Threats For Political Gain, 2002-2008,", February 23, 2008

VIDEO: "911 FALSE FLAG," NuoViso, September 11, 2008

VIDEO: Branigin never questioned the legitimacy of clearly bogus charges on their face - that five young men with hand weapons (automatic or otherwise) would declare war on the US Army at any or perhaps all of the above locations.--Stephen Lendman, "It's the Wrong Time to be a Muslim in America: The Troubling Case of the Fort Dix Five,", December 31, 2008

Salvador Hernandez, Doug Irvine and Sean Emery, "Man says he informed on Muslims for FBI," Orange County Register, February 26, 2009

Sean O'Neill, Steve Bird and Hannah Fletcher, "All suspects in 'student terror plot' released," Times Online, April 22, 2009

[But the FBI's approach has come under fire from some Muslims, criticism that surfaced again late last month after agents arrested an Oregon man they said tried to detonate a bomb at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. FBI technicians had supplied the device.

In the Irvine case, Monteilh's mission as an informant backfired. Muslims were so alarmed by his talk of violent jihad that they obtained a restraining order against him.

He had helped build a terrorism-related case against a mosque member, but that also collapsed. The Justice Department recently took the extraordinary step of dropping charges against the worshiper, who Monteilh had caught on tape agreeing to blow up buildings, law enforcement officials said. Prosecutors had portrayed the man as a dire threat.

Compounding the damage, Monteilh has gone public, revealing secret FBI methods and charging that his "handlers" trained him to entrap Muslims as he infiltrated their mosques, homes and businesses. He is now suing the FBI.

Officials declined to comment on specific details of Monteilh's tale but confirm that he was a paid FBI informant. Court records and interviews corroborate not only that Monteilh worked for the FBI - he says he made $177,000, tax-free, in 15 months - but that he provided vital information on a number of cases.--Jerry Markon, "FBI's use of informants strains ties with Muslims," Washington Post, December 5, 2010]

Gareth Porter, "No Evidence for Charge Iran Linked to JFK Terror Plot,", July 12, 2013

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