Tags: JFK | Airport | Plot | Suspects | Appear | Trinidad | Court

JFK Airport Plot Suspects Appear in Trinidad Court

Monday, 04 June 2007 12:00 AM

PORT OF SPAIN -- Two suspects in a foiled plot to blow up New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport appeared in court in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday and were accused of conspiring to commit terrorism.

Abdul Kadir, a citizen of Guyana and former member of its parliament, and Kareem Ibrahim, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, are among four suspects in the case, which has brought attention to a sun-drenched Caribbean region previously not associated with Islamic radicalism.

They were led into a packed Port of Spain court in handcuffs at about 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT) for a brief initial appearance before Chief Magistrate Sherman McNichols.

"They have been accused of an offense to commit a terrorist act under the laws of the United States," David West, an attorney representing the U.S. government, told the judge.

Kadir and Ibrahim, bearded and clad in loose-fitting traditional Muslim clothing like many of the courtroom spectators, looked calm and kept mostly silent during the 20-minute hearing in which McNichols told them they faced possible extradition to the United States.

U.S. authorities have said Kadir and Nur were associates of Jamaat al Muslimeen, a Muslim group behind a 1990 coup attempt in Trinidad, but did not have links to al Qaeda.

Formal extradition proceedings won't take place until a hearing set by McNichols for August 2.

There was no request for bail at Monday's hearing and Rajiv Persad, a lawyer for the defense, said he needed more time to prepare the case.

A third suspect, Russell Defreitas, a U.S. citizen and native of Guyana, was arrested in New York. U.S. authorities said he was a former airport employee who conducted surveillance for the group, using his knowledge of the site to identify targets and escape routes.

Trinidadian Police Commissioner Trevor Paul was expected to provide an update Monday on the search for a fourth suspect, Abdel Nur of Guyana, who was believed to be at large in Trinidad.

The group has not yet commented on the plot to blow up Kennedy airport's jet fuel tanks and part of the 40-mile (64-km) pipeline feeding them.

This twin-island southern Caribbean nation of 1.3 million people is almost equally divided between descendants of African slaves and Indian laborers sent to the Caribbean by the British in the 19th century.

Muslims comprise 6 percent to 8 percent of the population and most are descended from the Indian laborers but the small Jamaat sect is mostly made up of Islamists of African descent.

In his brief remarks in court, Ibrahim acknowledged under questioning from McNichols that he was Winston Kingston before he took his Muslim name. He said he was also known as Amir Karim.

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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PORT OF SPAIN -- Two suspects in a foiled plot to blow up New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport appeared in court in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday and were accused of conspiring to commit terrorism. Abdul Kadir, a citizen of Guyana and former member of its...
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2007-00-04
Monday, 04 June 2007 12:00 AM
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