Two men accused in a terrorist plot hoped to cause a spectacular explosion that would kill thousands at Kennedy Airport and avenge U.S. oppression of Muslims, a prosecutor said Monday at the men’s trial.
The defendants wanted to blow up jet fuel tanks at the sprawling airport, causing an explosion “so massive ... that it could be seen from far, far away,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Zainab Ahmad said in closing arguments in federal court in Brooklyn.
Their vision prompted them to code name the plot “The Shining Light,” the prosecutor said.
Russell Defreitas, 66, a former JFK cargo handler, and Abdul Kadir, 58, once a member of Parliament in Guyana, were arrested in 2007 after an informant infiltrated the plot and made a series of secret recordings.
Prosecutors say Defreitas did reconnaissance on the airport, sought the help of a militant Muslim group in Trinidad along with Kadir and dreamt of delivering a devastating economic blow to the United States.
Defreitas, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana, “is a classic homegrown extremist,” Ahmad said.
Defense attorneys have denied their clients are militants and claim they were framed by a shady informant. The lawyers were to give their closing arguments later Monday.
At trial, the government’s evidence included tapes of Defreitas that showed he was determined to avenge the mistreatment of Muslims in the United States and abroad with an attack that would “dwarf 9/11,” Ahmad said Monday. He also told the informant that his U.S. citizenship gave him cover, the prosecutor added.
“The don’t expect nobody in this country to do something like this,” she quoted him as saying. “They have their eyes on foreigners, not me.”
As part of the plot, Defreitas and the informant traveled to Guyana to meet with Kadir and show him homemade surveillance videotapes of the airport’s so-called fuel farms, the prosecutor said. The plotters also discussed reaching out to Adnam Shukrijumah, an al-Qaida operative and explosives expert who was believed to be hiding out in the Caribbean at the time, she added.
Shukrijumah, an FBI-most wanted terrorist, was indicted in federal court in Brooklyn this month on charges he was involved in a failed plot to attack the New York City subway system with suicide bombers.