Monday, June 04, 2007

Robert Spencer: Killing for Allah at JFK

This courtroom sketch shows Russell Defreitas, second left, at his arraignment at federal court in the borough of Brooklyn borough of New York, Saturday, June 2, 2007. Defreitas and two other people were arrested and a fourth man is being sought for allegedly plotting to blow up a fuel line that runs to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Knox, left, attorney Andrew Carter, second from right, and U.S. Magistrate Kiyo A. Matsumoto are also shown in the sketch.

June 4, 2007

In August 2006, Russell “Mohammed” Defreitas, a retired employee of New York’s JFK Airport, confided to an acquaintance his “vision” for a jihad terror attack that, he said, would make the attack on the World Trade Center seem small. The plot involved placing bombs in jet fuel lines in the airport, thereby destroying the airport and probably killing thousands.

Besides the mayhem and economic devastation this plot would cause, Defreitas seemed to have been fond of it because of its symbolic value: “Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States,” he told his acquaintance, who was a man whom he thought he knew from a mosque in Brooklyn and who was actually an informant. “To hit John F. Kennedy, wow...They love John F. Kennedy like he’s the man... If you hit that, the whole country will be in mourning. It’s like you can kill the man twice.” Despite having gained U.S. citizenship, Defreitas, a Guyanese by birth, clearly hates his new country, and wishes to demoralize it in service of its enemies.

Defreitas and his fellow plotters were arrested Friday, with their plot nowhere near completion. One of the other plotters was Abdul Kadir, an imam and a former member of the Guyanese parliament. According to the Wall Street Journal, the plotters were not members of Al-Qaeda, but had some connection with a little-known jihadist group in Trinidad, Jamaat al Muslimeen. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Knox said of Defreitas: “He is the self-proclaimed brainchild of an elaborate plot to blow up JFK airport. His stated goal was to kill as many people as possible.”

Early news reports noted, “the arrests mark the latest in a series of homegrown terrorism plots that targeted high-profile American landmarks.” And indeed, Knox’s words were an eerie echo of the Fort Dix jihad terror plot that was unmasked in May, in which the plotters hoped to kill as many soldiers as possible. The Fort Dix and JFK plotters are evidently among the thirteen percent of Muslims in the United States who support suicide attacks in some circumstances, and these two cases, one following so closely on the other, raise all the more urgently the questions of what American officials can and must do in order to minimize the possibility that one day, one plot like these will succeed.

These plots show again that one need not be a member of Al-Qaeda or some other recognized terror organization in order to plan a jihad terror attack. All one needs is the conviction that the supreme deity wants those who believe in him to commit mass murder, and will reward them for doing so. Assuring us that the vast majority of believers don’t believe this is not enough, as long as that majority does little or nothing to root out the minority who do believe it, and to resist the spread of such views. After the Fort Dix plot was uncovered, mainstream media coverage was much preoccupied with Muslim fears of “backlash” attacks that in reality never materialized, and not preoccupied at all with asking Muslims what they intended to do to make sure that Muslims in the U.S. were taught against the jihad ideology that many of them manifestly hold. About the Pew Research Center poll of American Muslims that showed significant support for suicide bombing and Al-Qaeda, I wrote last week:

Almost six years after 9/11, no pressure is coming either from the mainstream media or law enforcement for Muslim groups in the United States to institute comprehensive educational programs against jihadism in their mosques and schools. This poll, however, shows how much such programs are needed – as well as a national debate about how these groups should be regarded if they refuse or fail to implement such programs.

The JFK plot only makes those programs, and that debate, all the more urgent. Russell Defreitas hated his adoptive land and believed that Islam commanded him to bring it to its knees. What was he learning in the mosque in Brooklyn where he believed he had seen the government informant before? Do any law enforcement officials know the answer to that question? As long as American Muslim groups do not formally renounce the jihad ideology of Islamic supremacism that would destroy American Constitutional government and replace it with Shari’a, and do not expel those who refuse to renounce these beliefs in word and deed, American mosques must be monitored, and American Muslims called to account for harboring this menace.

But before these and other necessary actions can be taken, some mainstream media figures will have to have the courage to pierce the fog of political correctness that envelops us and call for such measures. Those who are looking for an opportunity to demonstrate their courage and patriotism have a superb chance to do so now.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad.

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