Imam sentenced to life in prison in JFK airport terror plot

Kareem Ibrahim leaves court in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2007.

Story highlights

  • Kareem Ibrahim was convicted in May of conspiring to attack JFK airport
  • He is sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2007 plot
  • Ibrahim was a leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago
An imam and leader of the Shiite Muslim community in Trinidad and Tobago was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to attack a New York airport by exploding fuel tanks and fuel pipelines under the airport, the Justice Department said Friday.
Kareem Ibrahim and several other co-conspirators believed the 2007 planned attack would cause extensive damage to John F. Kennedy International Airport and to the New York economy, as well as kill many people, officials said.
Ibrahim, 65, was convicted in May by a federal jury on multiple terrorism offenses after a four-week trial.
The plot originated in 2006 when Russell Defreitas, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana who used to work at JFK as a cargo handler, planned the attack and then recruited others, according to officials. In May 2007, Defreitas gave Ibrahim video surveillance and satellite imagery of the targets because Ibrahim had connections to militant leaders in Iran, the Justice Department said.
During cross-examination at trial, Ibrahim admitted he advised the plotters to present the attack plan to revolutionary leaders in Iran and to use operatives ready to engage in suicide attacks at the airport, according to the Justice Department. On one of the recorded conversations entered into evidence, Ibrahim told Defreitas the attackers must be ready to "fight it out, kill who you could kill and go back to Allah."
Ibrahim was arrested along with two others in Trinidad in June 2007 and later extradited to the United States. He was convicted of conspiracy to attack a public transportation system, conspiracy to destroy a building by fire or explosive, conspiracy to attack aircraft and aircraft materials, conspiracy to destroy international airport facilities, and conspiracy to attack a mass transportation facility, the Justice Department said.
Defreitas was arrested in New York and convicted of terrorism charges in 2010 and sentenced to life in prison.