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Jury finds two men guilty in JFK bomb plot

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Two of the Guyanese men arrested in connection with a plot to bomb John F. Kennedy International Airport and parts of southern Queens were found guilty Monday afternoon by a federal jury.

Russell Defreitas, 67, and Abdul Kadir, 58, face up to life in prison when they are sentenced Dec. 15 on their charges, including conspiracy to attack a public transportation system and conspiracy to attack aircraft and aircraft materials, Loretta E. Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said.

After six-weeks of testimony and five days of deliberation, a federal jury handed its verdict to the men, who were arrested three years ago along with two other Guyanese nationals before their plan ever came to fruition.

“The defendants intended to send a message by killing Americans and destroying the New York City economy,” the U.S. attorney said in a statement. “Today, the only message is that those who engage in potentially deadly plots against the United States will be stopped and punished.”

Defreitas, a naturalized American citizen, was the reported ringleader of the group and worked as a cargo handler at JFK in the 1990s. He came up with the idea of targeting the pipelines that transported gas underground through most of southern Queens to the airport, the U.S. attorney said.

Starting in 2006, he traveled to Guyana and Trinidad to recruit Kadir, a former Guyanese elected official, Abdel Kur, 60, and Kareem Ibrahim for the attack, according to Lynch. Defreitas provided the men with video surveillance of the airport, the U.S. attorney said.

At the same time, he talked about his plan to a federal informant who recorded all of their conversations with an undercover wire.

“Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States,” Defreitas said, according to his criminal complaint. “To hit John F. Kennedy, wow .... They love John F. Kennedy like he’s the man .... If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. It’s like you can kill the man twice.”

In June 2007, the suspects were arrested and a year later Ibrahim was extradited from Trinidad while Kadir and Nur were extradited from Guyana.

Just before Defreitas and Kadir’s trial began June 30, Nur pleaded guilty to lesser charges of providing material support to terrorists. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

Ibrahim is awaiting a federal trial for his alleged role in the failed plot and if convicted faces up to life in prison, Lynch said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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