Sources said the plot involved putting explosives inside the fuel pipeline but realized that “it was not technically feasible.”
Officials said the plot may also have included plans to hit the JFK terminal buildings and aircraft, in addition to the fuel lines.
Sources said the planning stages of the plot involved surveillance of JFK airport as well as scouting out US properties in Guyana for possible attacks.
Aviation officials said there is no major threat to air travel related to this plot since it was caught in the developmental stages.
One law enforcement official said: “[There was] credible intent to commit violence but it was not operational.”
Officials said the suspects never got hold of explosive devices.
The plot was foiled well before it came to fruition and the FBI said there was no threat to the public from the plot.
Mark Mershon, assistant director of in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York field office, said there was no indication of any connection with al Qaeda.
It seems the four plotters were Sunni Muslim men from Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Two of them allegedly were associates of Jamaat Al Muslimeen, an organization that attempted a coup in Trinidad in 1990. One of the four men arrested was a former member of Parliament in Guyana.
Brian Ross, ABC News (emphasis added):
FBI agents feared but never confirmed the three men accused of plotting to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York were linked to one of the most wanted al Qaeda leaders, Adnan Shukrijumah, known to have operated out of Guyana and Trinidad.
Officials tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com that they heard repeated references to “Adnan” during the extensive wiretaps conducted on the suspects’ telephone conversations, including calls to Guyana and Trinidad. …
… A FBI spokesperson in Miami said the squad assigned to track Shukrijumah was aware of the case but that “no connection” to the wanted al Qaeda suspect was found in the JFK case.
The spokesperson said the best available information is that Shukrijumah is with top al Qaeda leaders along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Authorities in New York today announced arrests in the ongoing counterterror investigation of a plot to blow up the jet fuel pipeline that runs through JFK Airport, officials said.
The plot, authorities stress, was not at an operational stage, and the plotters, who included a former airport employee, had no ability to execute it.
It’s possible that Jamaat Al Muslimeen has some contact with al Qaeda, of course, but several rightie bloggers have already named al Qaeda as the instigator of the plot. Michelle et al. are smokin’ up their keyboards to whip the faithful into a hysterical frenzy.
(It occurs to me that if this same thing had happened before 9/11, these same righties would be making jokes about it. Jokes along the lines of “Ah, too bad these guys were busted. Who’d miss New York?”)
But I have to say the best rightie reaction so far is from the Strata-Sphere. Here’s a guy who still believes in His President, even the immigration policy. He notes that the perps were legal immigrants, not undocumented workers, and says,
Thankfully our law enforcement resources were being diverted to round up nannies and waiters and cooks and painters and taxicab drivers who, while have not committed any serious crimes, are still here illegally. These attacks are going to increase as we stifle al Qaedaâ€™s hopes in Iraq. As I reported al Qaeda is diverting new recruits away from Iraq (probably because it is now a lost cause). And what does the far right propose? Yep leaving us with our poor security situation longer while they ignore everything but their obsessions with workers here who are undocumented, but otherwise non-criminals.
The threat is from people getting here legally so they can operate without much suspicion. Illegal entry, as with 9-11, attracts too much unneeded attention. We have dodged a bullet again. We have probably used the NSA surveillance program to monitor the calls to the overseas partners in this attack. We probably started without a FISA warrant but graduated to one just as Bush said the program would work. And all of this is being missed by the far right which is off complaining about being insulted because they do not have Bush in their corner on one issue. And their solution? Walk away and let more liberals get elected so they can tear down the NSA program and make the illegals citizens immediately.
I love the way he’s got all these issues tied together — terrorism, immigration, and raping the Fourth Amendment. The NSA program? He insists the NSA wiretap program must have been responsible for this bust, because, you know, it must have been. There is no other way that the FBI could have found out about this, especially since the FBI wouldn’t possibly have been tracking members of a known Caribbean terrorist group without having used warrantless wiretaps, see.
Another factor we don’t yet know is what part the NYPD played in this. The NYPD has its own counterterrorism unit that may be more effective in sniffing out these local plots than the FBI. You can read about it in this article from the February 2003 issue of New York magazine. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the NYPD, not the NSA, first alerted the FBI to this.