Aviation News

February 17, 2011

Kennedy Airport Terror Planner Sentenced to Life in Prison

A US judge on Thursday sentenced a former cargo handler to life in prison for plotting to explode fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

JFK Airport control tower with Delta 767

“Russell Defreitas plotted to commit a terrorist attack that he hoped would rival 9/11,” United States Attorney Lynch said in a statement.

“But law enforcement detected and thwarted the plot, saving lives. Now, our courts have dispensed justice by handing out the life sentence that Defreitas richly deserves,” Lynch added.

Russell Defreitas and co-defendant Abdul Kadir, a former member of the Guyanese parliament, were convicted in July 2010 after a nine-week trial.

Defreitas, a naturalized United States citizen from Guyana, recruited Kadir, a trained engineer with connections to militant groups in Iran and Venezuela, and others to join the plot during multiple trips to Guyana and Trinidad in 2006 and 2007. Between trips, Defreitas engaged in video surveillance of JFK Airport and transported the footage back to his country of origin.

On December 15, 2010, Judge Irizarry sentenced Abdul Kadir to life in prison. The two others charged in the plot are Abdel Nur, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January, and Kareem Ibrahim, who is awaiting trial.

Defreitas, 67, and his fellow plot members were also accused of seeking the help of prominent international terrorist leaders, including Adnan El Shukrijumah, an al-Qaida leader, as well as the Iranian revolutionary leadership.

On June 1, 2007, Defreitas was arrested in New York, and Kadir was arrested in Trinidad aboard a plane headed to Venezuela, en route to Iran. He was subsequently extradited to the United States.

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