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Bronx Bomb Case Steps and Missteps


Domestic war on terrorism tactics are likely unconstitutional.


National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW)

Press Release


National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW) calls for US Department of Justice investigation into alleged terrorism case targeting synagogues and airplanes.


Washington DC, May 22, 2009


The National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW) in response to FBI and NYPD allegations, and the arrests of six Muslim men who are charged with plotting to bomb synagogues and airplanes in New York, will ask the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to initiate an investigation to determine whether or not these men were entrapped in a year long scheme that was carried out to criminalize these men in a plot that was in fact conceived, guided and facilitated by an FBI informant. This suggests to us that this was in fact an FBI plot, rather than a plot that was created and advanced by these men. According to the information released today there was neither any willful intent, nor were these men capable of carrying out such a plot without help from the FBI.


We believe that this supposed conspiracy was dreamed up by the FBI informant who coerced these men who reportedly have very limited intellectual abilities, one who is reportedly a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, to participate with him in a fake plot to blow up synagogues and an airplane in New York. The FBI said in its own statement that they allowed the informant to carry out a psychological campaign for a entire year, that was intended to make these men depressed and aggravated about the plight of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. The informant then persuaded these men into believing that their religion obligated them to carry out acts of violence in the United States in retaliation for US war crimes being carried out in the Muslim world. Once the desired psychological conditioning was achieved, the informant supplied fake weapons and explosives to the suspects, and it was only then that the FBI and NYPD moved to arrest these men. In our opinion, this is a classic case of entrapment, and if what we believe is true, the FBI may have violated these men's civil rights, and the informant may in fact be guilty of criminal entrapment.


We feel that the case, and the questions raised by this case have created a need for further investigation and we hope that the Department of Justice will agree with us. We are in the process of retaining an attorney to guide us in our pursuit of the truth and justice for these young men, who may not be guilty of anything more than mental illness, retardation, and sympathy for other Muslims.


Our worse suspicion is that these men have been entrapped in an ongoing political campaign being carried out by the FBI that is aimed at creating the illusion that all Muslims are either terrorists or potential terrorists, thereby substantiating the use of racial and religious profiling on Muslims and Arabs, and the use of controversial and possibly unconstitutional "preventive" crime techniques exclusively on Muslims and Arabs. Just as we have recently learned that waterboarding was used against detainees at Guantanamo Bay to coerce false confessions linking Iraq to Al Qadea, hoping to create a false cause for war against Iraq, these types of domestic plots, arrests, and publicity might be intended to create fear in our society of Arabs, Muslims.and the religion of Islam. The intent might also be to create fear that might result in a willingness on the part of citizens to surrender rights in exchange for a false sense of safety, and to substantiate more funding for the wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and to strengthen the rationale for perpetual preemptive war against Muslims, Arabs and Islam.


For more information contact NAMAW at: namaw01@gmail. com


The National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW) is the United State's first and only pro life and pro family Muslim woman's political action committee.


A look at one Newburgh suspect in bombing plot

By Doyle Murphy

May 21, 2009

http://www.recordon apps/pbcs. dll/article? AID=/20090521/ NEWS/90521007


Hamin Rashada came down out of the building just before 4 a.m., nearly an hour after all the police and federal agents had left and just about an hour before he would have to go out again for morning prayers.


A 21-year-old parolee named Laguerre Payen had lived upstairs in the

rooming house on the corner of Broadway and Lutheran Street. Payen is

notorious by now, his name sent round the world as one of four Newburgh men charged in a plot to shoot down planes at Stewart Airport and bomb synagogues. James Cromitie, David Williams and Onta Williams were also charged.


Since serving a 15-month prison term for attempted assault, Payen had bounced back and forth between Newburgh and Middletown, occasionally living on the street, Rashada said. Rashada had gotten to know the young man through the Orange County Transition Center a program that helps reintegrate parolees such as Payen.


So much for aggression replacement training while in prison


Terror suspects liked beer, hanging out


"He's a strange kid," Rashada said. "He had a lot of psychological problems."


Rashada is a senior life coach with the program and was working with Payen. He also encouraged him to attend Friday prayers at Masjid al-Ikhlas in Newburgh where Rashada is an assistan imam. Payen had told him he was Muslim, and Rashada figured he must have been introduced to Islam in prison. Misunderstandings of the teachings can occur in places such as prison, Rashada said, because educated teachers may be rarer. Rashada said at the Newburgh mosque, they worked to put teachings in their proper context. Payen attended only occasionally, however, he said."I guess when he got bored out here on the street," Rashada said.


When Payen did come, he would try to impress other members of the mosque by spouting supposed knowledge of Islam, Rashada said. Often, he was so far off in his statements Rashada would have to correct him in front of people. Payen would go quiet then and wander off. He seemed passive to Rashada. Strange, yes, but never violent.


Police and federal agents surrounded Payen's home Wednesdy night, barreled into the room and searched his possessions. For nearly five hours, they stood by the building wearing everything from green fatigues and helmets to "Joint Terrorism Task Force" jackets to FBI sweatshirts. Another group of police and agents staged a similar operation at a house just more than a mile to the west on Broadway.


Rashada came to Lutheran Street because he is on the Transition Center's team that had helped broker the deal that put parolees in rooms that had been rehabilitated since the building's days as a crack haven. He wanted to try to secure the room agents had forced open. He'd already heard the Newburgh men had been linked to the mosque in news reports. The U.S. District Attorney's Office said in the complaint Cromitie had met with an informant there and shared wishes of violence. Rashada said he didn't know either Williams, and Cromitie's name was only vaguely familiar. ("I can't put a face with a name.") He knew Payen best through the Transition Center. He could picture how all the sudden attention would go as people rushed to find a link from the suspects to a mosque and extremist Islam. It upset him. "It's disgustingly irresponsible, " he said.


He quoted a teaching for the Koran that says a person who saves on person saves all of humanity. And a person who kills another person kills all of humanity. He said they teach that at the mosque. Payen, he said, rarely attended.


- The Associated Press contributed to this report




In Bronx Bomb Case, Steps and Missteps, on Tape


The New York Times

May 22, 2009


They were four ex-convicts one a crack addict, another whose most recent arrest involved snatching purses and they gathered their terror tools as they went.


They bought cellphones, the authorities said; they bought a camera in a Wal-Mart to take photographs of the synagogues in New York City that they wanted to blow up. When their attempt to buy guns in Newburgh, N.Y., fell through their gun dealer told them she had sold out they drove downstate, buying a $700 pistol from a Bloods

gang leader in Brooklyn.


After months of planning, the authorities allege, the men had their first real scare this month, driving to Stamford, Conn., to pick up a surface-to-air missile that was waiting for them in a warehouse. One of the men in the car believed they were being followed by law enforcement, so they returned to Newburgh, drove around until they were satisfied they were in the clear, then went back to Stamford for their missile and bombs.


They brought them back to Newburgh, locked them in a storage container, and celebrated, shouting, "Allah akbar!"


These details as told by the authorities describe a homegrown terror plot to bomb two synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down a military aircraft in Newburgh. The outlines of the plan were fleshed out on Thursday, in court hearings, documents and interviews, as were bits and pieces of the checkered life stories of the four men charged in the plot.


Remarkably, vast passages of the conspiracy the federal authorities described the talk of killing Jews, the testing of the men's would-be weaponry played out on a veritable soundstage of hidden cameras and secret microphones, and involved material provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A house in Newburgh, a storage facility in Stamford, the planting of the would-be bombs in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale everything was recorded, according to the complaint.


"It's hard to envision a more chilling plot," Eric Snyder, an assistant United States attorney, said on Thursday in federal court in Manhattan. "These are extremely violent men. These are men who eagerly embraced an opportunity" to "bring deaths to Jews."

On Thursday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly appeared at the Riverdale Jewish Center, which the F.B.I. identified as one of the targets of the plot. Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Kelly praised the work of the agencies behind the arrests and sought to tamp down any fears of a larger terrorist organization at work.


"Sadly, this is just a reminder that peace is fragile and democracy is fragile and we have to be vigilant all the time," said Mr. Bloomberg, who along with Mr. Kelly stressed that the four men had no connection to any international terror groups. "The good news is that the N.Y.P.D. and F.B.I. prevented what could have been a terrible event in our city."


The case is the latest in a series in New York and around the country since Sept. 11, 2001, and sounded familiar in some ways. The investigation, for instance, began with the work of a confidential informant, who portrayed himself as an agent of a Pakistani terror organization, and who became a critical member of the men's plot.


The full nature and extent of the informant's role in facilitating the plot is unknown. In other cases, defense lawyers have sought to portray these informants as engaging in entrapment, suggesting they had, in effect, provoked and fueled the actions of their clients.


But where past terror prosecutions have been based mostly on conversations about a planned or imagined attack, this one went further, the authorities alleged: the men went through critical acts in what they believed to be a deadly assault.


As for the defendants James Cromitie, 44; David Williams, 28; Onta Williams, 32, and no apparent relation to David; and Laguerre Payen, 27 most of the details that emerged on Thursday stemmed from their criminal pasts.


David Williams, who lately had grown a beard and taken to reading the Koran on slow nights at a steakhouse job, was described as particularly violent by prosecutors on Thursday. When the plan to buy guns from a woman in Newburgh fell through, it was David Williams who quickly improvised, arranging to buy a gun from a man he described as a "supreme Blood gang leader" in Brooklyn, Mr. Snyder said. After buying the gun in the company of the informant, David Williams said he would have shot the gang leader if he were alone with him, and kept his $700.


Mr. Payen, described as a nervous, quiet sort who took medication for schizophrenia or a bi-polar disorder, was unemployed and living in squalor in Newburgh. His last arrest, in 2002, was for assault, after he drove around the Rockland County village of Monsey, firing a BB gun out of the window striking two teens and snatching two purses. A friend who visited Mr. Payen's apartment on Thursday said it contained bottles of urine, and raw chicken on the stovetop.


Onta Williams had been addicted to cocaine since he was a teenager, according to testimony at a 2003 court hearing. Mr. Cromitie has spent 12 years in prison, most recently for selling drugs to undercover officers behind a school.


Law enforcement officials initially said the four men were Muslims, but their religious backgrounds remained uncertain Thursday. Mr. Payen reported himself to be Catholic during his 15-month prison sentence that ended in 2005, according to a state corrections official. Mr. Cromitie and Onta Williams both identified themselves as Baptists in

prison records, although Mr. Cromitie changed his listed religion to Muslim upon his last two incarcerations; David Williams reported no religious affiliation.


The men never served in the same prison together. Three of them regularly lunched together at Danny's Restaurant in Newburgh, chatting over plates of rice and beans, said Danny DeLeon, the owner.


Salahuddin Mustafa Muhammad, the imam at the mosque where the authorities say the confidential informant first encountered the men, said none of the men were active in the mosque. An assistant imam, Hamin Rashada, said Mr. Cromitie and Mr. Payen occasionally attended services.


Mr. Cromitie was there last June, and he met a stranger.


He had no way of knowing that the stranger's path to the mosque began in 2002, when he was arrested on federal charges of identity theft. He was sentenced to five years' probation, and became a confidential informant for the F.B.I. He began showing up at the mosque in Newburgh around 2007, Mr. Muhammad said.


The stranger's behavior aroused the imam's suspicions. He invited other worshipers to meals, and spoke of violence and jihad, so the imam said he steered clear of him.


"There was just something fishy about him," Mr. Muhammad said. Members "believed he was a government agent."


Mr. Muhammad said members of his congregation told him the man he believed was the informant offered at least one of them a substantial amount of money to join his "team."


The informant met Mr. Cromitie, and it quickly appeared that Mr. Cromitie was of a like mind with the apparent radical before him, according to the complaint. Mr. Cromitie said his parents had lived in Afghanistan before he was born and that he was angry at the killing of Muslims there.


The next month, on July 3, the two men met and discussed the terror organization Jaish-e-Mohammed, based in Pakistan, with which the informant claimed to be involved. Mr. Cromitie told him he wanted to join and "do jihad," according to the complaint.


All of this came as a shock to Mr. Cromitie's mother after his arrest on Wednesday. Adele Cromitie, 65, said her son was raised a Christian, and that neither she nor his father, who left the family when Mr. Cromitie was a young child, had lived in Afghanistan. She said Mr. Cromitie visited her, at her apartment in the Castle Hill neighborhood of the Bronx, for the first time in nearly 15 years about three years ago, after getting out of prison, and announced he had converted to Islam.


"When he told me that, I said, `Get out of here,' " Ms. Cromitie recalled.


About six months ago, Mr. DeLeon, the restaurant owner, noticed that a new man was showing up for lunch. He was about 50 and appeared to be South Asian, and he usually paid for the group. Mr. DeLeon thought he was the boss.


Beginning in October, the informant began meeting Mr. Cromitie at a home in Newburgh that was wired with hidden cameras and microphones, the criminal complaint said. David Williams, Onta Williams and Mr. Payen attended these meetings, and the group discussed Mr. Cromitie's desire to strike a synagogue in the Bronx and military aircraft at the Air National Guard base in Newburgh, according to the complaint.


In December, the plan began to take shape in the Newburgh house. On Dec. 5, Mr. Cromitie asked the informant whether he could acquire "rockets" and "devices" for attacks, and the informant said he could provide C-4 plastic explosives to fashion improvised bombs. On Dec. 17, Mr. Cromitie said he wanted to case the air base later that week, and that he would remove his traditional Muslim attire a white jalabiya and cap so as not to draw suspicion. David Williams suggested they refer to the synagogues as "joints."


On April 10, Mr. Cromitie, David Williams and the informant drove to a

Wal-Mart in Newburgh and bought a camera, and then went to the Bronx,

where Mr. Cromitie took pictures of synagogues. He said blowing up the

Riverdale Jewish Center would be "a piece of cake."


Several days later, the three men met again and discussed picking up a Stinger heat-seeking missile in Connecticut and synchronizing the aircraft strike and the bombings.


On the night of April 28, after figuring out where they could get a gun, the men reinforced their commitment to the plan to one another, according to the authorities. They each said they were willing to perform jihad, and Onta Williams spoke, saying the military is "killing Muslim brothers and sisters in Muslim countries, so if we kill them here with I.E.D.'s and Stingers, it is equal," according to the complaint.


On May 6, the five men drove to Stamford to pick up the explosives and the Stinger, according to the complaint. The location was carefully chosen in advance, but not by any of the men in the vehicle.


The Stamford police were approached by the F.B.I. several months ago, officials said, and asked for help in finding a warehouse where a meeting with the suspected terror cell could take place. A warehouse on the Waterside section of town was chosen and wired for video and audio for the meeting.


The men, after the brief scare about being followed, eventually made it to Stamford. There, they inspected the explosive devices. Each weighed 37 pounds and was inside a canvas bag. None of them, nor the Stinger missile at the warehouse, was operational, having been disabled by the F.B.I.


The four men tested one of the detonators for the bombs, which was to be set off with a cellphone, the compliant said. They drove the weapons to Newburgh, locked them in a storage container and



The five men met at the storage unit to inspect the weapons on May 8. Twelve days later, they drove to the Bronx with the bombs.


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