Fed appeals court affirms convictions of JFK plotters

Guyanese Muslim and former member of the South Guyanese Muslim and former member of the South American nation's Parliament Abdul Kadir, 55, arrives to the Magistrate Court for an extradition hearing in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. (June 4, 2007) Photo Credit: AP

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A federal appeals court on Friday affirmed the convictions and life sentences of two men for plotting to blow up fuel tanks and pipelines at Kennedy Airport in 2006.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed complaints from Russell DeFreitas, 69, of Brooklyn, the alleged mastermind, and Abdul Kadir, 61, a one-time Guyanese official, about the use of an anonymous jury, rulings on evidence and the length of the sentence.

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Although DeFreitas, a onetime baggage handler, and his co-conspirators in Guyana floundered in progressing on their plot and an FBI undercover agent penetrated the inner circle at an early stage, the court said it was still a serious case.

"The defendants were convicted of conspiring . . . to kill countless Americans and other travelers, disrupt air travel, and harm the American economy," Judge John Walker wrote. "The gravity of the crimes for which they were convicted easily justifies the life sentences that were imposed."

Evidence at trial in 2010 indicated that the plotters wanted to reach out to either Iran or an al-Qaida operative for help. The appeals court said that evidence was admissible to show the seriousness of their intent. DeFreitas, Kadir and two others were convicted in the case.

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