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NYT: JFK Airport Plot Nothing To Worry About

From the official “Paper Of Treason,” the New York Times:

Papers Portray Plot as More Talk Than Action

June 4, 2007

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.”

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly then stepped to the lectern with a vision only a bit less grim.

“Once again, would-be terrorists have put New York City in their crosshairs,” he said. Mr. Kelly said a disaster had been averted.

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.

(Ms. Mauskopf noted in her news release that the “public was never at risk” and told reporters that law enforcement “had stopped this plot long before it ever had a chance to be carried out.”)

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.

The complaint, filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, also suggests that at least two of the suspects had some ambivalence. One of the men was game for bombing the airport but leery about killing masses of people, the complaint says. Another dropped out of the plot for a time to tend to his business.

The suspects had ties with a dangerous Islamic group that once engineered a deadly coup attempt in Trinidad and Tobago, which was approached about underwriting a plot, but in the end, the men decided to stop courting that group and resolved to shop elsewhere overseas for financing.

No one would second-guess the authorities for pursuing and arresting suspected plotters. An enduring lesson that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have taught prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the danger of inaction.

But as with many post-9/11 terror plots, the line between terrible aspiration and reality can get lost in a murky haze.

In case after case, from what authorities said was a dirty bomber to the Lackawanna Six, federal prosecutors hail arrests of terrorists and disruptions of what they describe as sinister plots. But as these legal cases unfold, the true nature of the threats can come into question.

Ms. Mauskopf and Mr. Kelly declined yesterday to discuss their characterizations of the airport case. Mark J. Mershon, assistant director in charge of the F.B.I.’s New York office, also spoke at the news conference, and he said yesterday that his message was very clear:

“I believe I spoke the simple truth at the press conference: the ambitions were horrific, the capacities were very limited, but they kept trying. Their signature was their persistence.”

Neal R. Sonnett, a defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor who was chief of the criminal division in the United States attorney’s office in Miami, congratulated the F.B.I. for fine police work in what was clearly “a prosecutable case.”

But he said: “There unfortunately has been a tendency to shout too loudly about such cases.”

It has a bit of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight to it,” Mr. Sonnett said. “It would have served the federal government well to say that.”  …

Don’t you just love the New York Times?

The Times claims that global warming will wipe out one third of the species in the world within ten years. But they always manage to find armchair “experts” to tell us that the dangers of these domestic terrorist plots are being grossly exaggerated.

In case after case, from what authorities said was a dirty bomber to the Lackawanna Six, federal prosecutors hail arrests of terrorists and disruptions of what they describe as sinister plots. But as these legal cases unfold, the true nature of the threats can come into question.

Sure they can. Thanks to the endless disinformation from sources like the New York Times.

After all how much damage could one person do in a shopping mall?

You can read the criminal complaint filed against the four suspects here (pdf file), and decide for yourself whether you think it was all talk or not.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, June 4th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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