The alleged plot to blow up Kennedy Airport's fuel
system, intended to be more destructive and deadly than the Sept. 11 attacks,
was driven by a deep-seated hatred of the United States and the West and now
spotlights the Caribbean as another region of the world that increasingly poses
a terrorism threat.
Authorities said four men, including a former member of the Guyanese
parliament as well as a Brooklyn man who was a Kennedy cargo worker, are being
charged with conspiring to plant explosives to damage the airport's jet-fuel
supply tanks. The men allegedly also had plans to plant explosives on a 40-mile
pipeline that winds its way from a facility in Linden, N.J., through Staten
Island, Brooklyn and Queens on its way to Kennedy Airport.
The plot, which the men code-named "Chicken Farm," was foiled "well before
it came to fruition," authorities said yesterday in unveiling the threat. The
men had not gotten the explosives or financing needed to carry out their plan.
"The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just
unthinkable," said U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf at a news conference
yesterday. She called it "one of the most chilling plots imaginable."
Three of the men are under arrest - one in Brooklyn and two in the
Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago - and officials are seeking a fourth in
Trinidad. The arrests were made, authorities said, because they felt they had
gathered enough evidence, including numerous audio recordings, to successfully
prosecute the suspects.
According to court papers, Russell Defreitas, 63, the Brooklyn man
arrested, came up with the bombing plot during his years working at the
airport. He told an FBI informant that he had seen "military parts being
shipped to Israel, including missiles that he felt would be used to kill
Muslims." As a result, Defreitas said he wanted to do something to strike back.
Defreitas, a U.S. citizen and a native of Guyana, later told the informant
that when he used to work at Kennedy, "these things used to come into my brain
- well, I could blow this place up. ... And I would say, if I could get a
rocket, then I could do a hit."
Defreitas thought that destroying Kennedy Airport in particular would hurt
Americans and the U.S. economy alike, according to the court complaint.
"Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United
States," Defreitas allegedly told the informant during one of the four trips
the two took to the airport this past January to conduct video and photo
surveillance. "If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning."
Defreitas also thought that targeting the pipeline at the airport would
destroy the residential Queens neighborhoods bordering Kennedy, authorities
The alleged plot, which authorities had been monitoring for about 18
months, involved men with connections in Guyana and Trinidad. Defreitas and the
informant also made a number of trips to the two Caribbean countries, leaving
law enforcement officials to claim that there is a new region of the world to
be mindful of for terrorism threats.
"This latest plot was at once different and similar to what we have seen
before," said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "Different in its
distinct ties to the Caribbean, a region that is rarely thought of in terms of
terrorism but of increasing concern ... ."
Yet despite the international scope, Kelly pointed out that New York City
remained at the heart of terrorism threats.
"If we learned anything from this latest plot, it's that they keep coming
back to New York," he said.
On the campaign trail, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said in
Florida last night that the foiled airport plot points up the need for
anti-terror tactics like the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance and
"aggressive" interrogation techniques.
"The reality is that there are people in America who don't realize now how
serious this threat is, and, you know, we have to remain on offense." he said.
NYPD patrolled pipeline
According to Kelly, when his department first learned of the plot, its
counterterrorism division conducted a survey of the pipeline and its
helicopters and boats began regular patrols of it.
Authorities said the pipeline is part of the Buckeye Pipeline system, which
originates in the Upper Midwest and distributes fuel and other petroleum
products to various sites in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Staten Island,
Brooklyn, and Queens, including Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.
Buckeye spokesman Roy Haase declined to discuss details of the plot or the
security measures of the company.