An update on this story. Despite the fact that recordings showed Defreitas, a former air cargo handler at JFK, “speaking with evident relish about his desire to cause death and destruction,” the defense attorney still claimed “entrapment.”
That claim is absurd, as usual. Evidence showed the fact that this group of jihadists became “operational” rather than remaining “aspirational” was their choice, and one ought to be thankful authorities have had so much success in quietly constructing “off-ramps” for many a jihad plot, from Dallas to Portland, Springfield, Illinois, Baltimore, and this case as well, averting untold numbers of casualties.
“Life Sentence For Leader Of Terror Plot At Kennedy,” by Colin Moynihan for the New York Times, February 17:
A man described by prosecutors as the ringleader of a plot to blow up fuel tanks at Kennedy International Airport was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.
As he had at his trial, the man, Russell M. Defreitas, 67, sat silently through his sentencing as Judge Dora L. Irizarry of Federal District Court in Brooklyn said “the offenses that were contemplated here, that the jury found Mr. Defreitas guilty of, are extremely serious.”
Mr. Defreitas, a Guyanese immigrant and former cargo handler at the airport, was convicted in August of conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack after a trial in which prosecutors played secretly recorded conversations in which he planned the attack and described his hatred of the United States.
The recordings were made by a convicted drug dealer, Steven Francis, who worked as an informant and contributed some financial and logistical support to the plotters.
Four men were charged in the plot, including Mr. Defreitas and Abdul Kadir, who once served as mayor of Guyana’s second largest city and as a member of the Guyanese Parliament.
Mr. Kadir was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to life in prison. Another defendant, Abdel Nur, pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorism and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The fourth man, Kareem Ibrahim, has yet to be tried.
Prosecutors said Mr. Defreitas came up with a sinister plan intended to cause a chain reaction of explosions along a pipeline that runs between the airport and other parts of New York City. The conspirators hoped to destroy the country’s economy, prosecutors said, and tried to contact Adnan G. el-Shukrijumah, a Qaeda operative with explosives training.
Parts of the conspiracy, as conceived by Mr. Defreitas, had bizarre aspects. He declared that he wanted the attack to be “high-tech” and “ninja-style” in execution, according to the tapes. At one point, he suggested that the plotters could create a diversion by flooding the airport’s main terminal with a horde of rats. […]
At the trial, Mr. Defreitas’s lawyers portrayed him as more disagreeable than dangerous; one of his lawyers described him as “a man with a small mind, a big mouth and an ugly imagination.” On Thursday, that lawyer, Mildred Whalen, asked Judge Irizarry to sentence her client to no more than 15 years.
“This was a group of people who were aspirational rather than operational,” she said of the plotters. “Until the government got involved, this was talk.”
Prosecutors disagreed, presenting a wide array of evidence during the trial, including hours of recordings. They showed that Mr. Defreitas had traveled to Guyana and Trinidad to seek support for the plot and had pushed it forward on numerous occasions, sometimes speaking with evident relish about his desire to cause death and destruction….