Defendant scoffs at JFK Airport security on tape played at New York terror trialBy AP
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Terror defendant scoffed at JFK security
NEW YORK — A former cargo handler on a reconnaissance mission in an alleged plot to blow up New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport marveled at the lack of security for jet fuel storage tanks there, according to tapes played Tuesday at his terror trial.
“You can’t believe how a place like Kennedy can be so (lax),” Russell Defreitas said in a videotape recorded in January 2007. “No soldier. Nothing at all. … The tanks ain’t got one person.”
Defreitas was talking to Steven Francis, a convicted drug trafficker the government recruited to infiltrate a ragtag terror cell, as they drove around the New York City airport.
The grainy videotape of Defreitas in a front passenger seat was played in federal court in Brooklyn during the testimony by Francis, who went undercover to make a series of secret tapes before Defreitas and co-defendant Abdul Kadir were arrested.
Prosecutors say 66-year-old Defreitas, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana, and Kadir wanted to kill thousands of people and cripple the American economy by using explosives to blow up the fuel tanks. Kadir, 58, once was a member of Parliament in Guyana, where authorities say the men sought the help of militant Muslims.
The pair hoped to “cause greater destruction than in the Sept. 11 attacks,” the government alleges in an indictment. The plot never got past the planning stages, authorities said. The men have pleaded not guilty.
In the tape played Tuesday, Defreitas bragged about his knowledge of Kennedy Airport and its vulnerabilities.
“For years, I’ve been watching them,” he said of the fuel tanks.
Francis testified that the cell used code words, referring to potential targets as “the glass,” and the planned attack as “the shining light.” He and Defreitas, he said, were able to drive “very close” to the fuel tanks without being stopped.
Following the surveillance, Francis and Defreitas reported back to a coconspirator in Guyana who was expected to supply the explosives for the attack.
“Mission accomplished today,” Defreitas says in the taped phone conversation.
“All right,” the coconspirator responds. “That’s good, that’s good, that’s good.”
Tags: Airport Security, Guyana, Latin America And Caribbean, New York, New York City, North America, South America, Terrorism, Transportation, United States