WASHINGTON – The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday night thwarted a plot to carry out a terror attack at two synagogues in New York's Bronx borough and shoot at Air National Guard military planes with stinger surface-to-air guided missiles.
According to sources in the United States, four Muslims were arrested following an undercover investigation conducted for about a year, after acquiring weapons from a secret agent.
Initial details reveal that the four had planned to detonate a car with plastic explosives outside a synagogue and a Jewish community center – which also serves as a temple – in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale. Simultaneously, they had planned to shoot military planes at the New York Air National Guard base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh with Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles, authorities said.
The plot was uncovered after a man close to the four suspects heard about their plans and informed the authorities. He quickly became an FBI informer and assisted in transfering explosive devices and dummy missiles, which helped incriminate the four men.
The suspects were identified as James Cromitie, also known as Abdul Rahman; David Williams, also known as Daoud or simply DL; Onta Williams, also known as Hamza; and Laguerre Payen, also known as Amin and Almondo.
'Long, well-planned investigation'
As part of the investigation, the suspects were spotted on April 10 photographing several synagogues and Jewish community centers in the Bronx and other places, in an attempt to locate possible targets for a terror attack.
Two weeks later, the four met at the Stewart International Airport in New York, which also serves as a base for Air Force and New York's National Guard planes. On the same day, they also telephoned a weapons dealer in order to purchase guns for the planned attacks.
Arrest (Photo: AP)
On April 24, they traveled near the Stewart Airport in order to search for a suitable spot to shoot down a cargo plane. They photographed the airport from different angles, and on May 6 they arrived at a warehouse in Connecticut and purchased a stinger surface-to-air guided missile and three improvised explosive devices. They didn’t know that the weapons had been neutralized, and continued with the equipment to complete their plan.
Two days later, they traveled with the equipment to a warehouse in Newburgh, in order to experiment launching the stringer missile. At the same time, the four discussed detonating an explosive device at a synagogue using a remote control.
Representative Peter King, a New York Republican who serves as a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that “this was a long, well-planned investigation, and it shows how real the threat is from homegrown terrorists.”
Rabbi Judith Lewis of Riverdale told Ynet that FBI officials had arrived at the neighborhood on Wednesday evening and told the community members about the arrests.
"They said there had been a plan to detonate a car bomb outside the synagogue. I don't know which synagogue exactly. At the moment everyone is gathered at the Jewish center, where the police are expected to provide further details," she said.
Hagar Mizrachi, The Associated Press, AFP and Reuters contributed to this report