The arrest of four men in New York for planning to bomb synagogues and shoot down military aircraft underscores the progress the U.S. intelligence community has made since 9/11, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik tells Newsmax.
"As the details roll in about the case against the four men recently arrested by the FBI, we should be reminded of some of the lessons learned from the events of 9/11, such as the importance of intelligence and inter-agency communication and cooperation," said Kerik, who oversaw the NYPD's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"The one thing that was clear in the post-9/11 analysis was the lack of inter-agency coordination and intelligence gathering, much of which was the result of our own laws that prohibited the FBI and the CIA from communicating.
"The creation of the Patriot Act resolved many of those issues and enhanced the ability of our federal law enforcement agencies to collect and share intelligence and gain access to information and communications of terrorists that was not possible prior to September 11, 2001."
The arrests of the four men came after a nearly yearlong undercover operation that began in Newburgh, N.Y. James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Three of the defendants are U.S. citizens and one is of Haitian descent, officials said.
The men had planned to detonate a car with plastic explosives outside a temple in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale, and to shoot down military planes at the New York Air National Guard base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh with Stinger surface-to-air missiles, authorities said.
"Something else that is highlighted by this case is the threat we face today from 'home-grown' terrorists, regardless of their skin color or ethnic background," said Kerik.
"The reality is that these four Muslim men, not of Arab descent, were just as deadly as those that have planted bombs in the U.K., Spain, Jordan or Saudi Arabia. Their hatred for Israel and the United States government is no different.
"Assistant United States Attorney Eric Snyder said, 'These are extremely violent men.' He made that statement based on the plan the men had to carry out their deadly mission. And had it not been for the FBI’s investigation and intervention, eventually they would have acquired real explosive devices and stinger missiles to accomplish their goals."
The defendants, in their efforts to acquire weapons, dealt with an informant acting under law enforcement supervision. The FBI and other agencies monitored the men and provided an inactive missile and inert C-4 plastic explosives to the informant for the defendants, a federal complaint said.
The suspects were arrested Wednesday night, shortly after planting a mock explosive device in the trunk of a car outside the Riverdale Temple and two mock bombs in the backseat of a car outside the Jewish Center, authorities said.
"The fact that the FBI foiled the plot, introduced an informant or provided them with substitute explosives, should not create a perception that they posed a lesser threat," Kerik told Newsmax.
"That would be extremely naïve and so dangerous.
"The fight against this radical Islamic enemy must continue both here and abroad, and the CIA, FBI and our local law enforcement must be given every tool and resource they need to get that job done.
"For today, chalk one up for the good guys for a job well done."
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