Four New York City men were arrested Wednesday in connection with an alleged plot to blow up New York City synagogues and other city locations, WNBC’s Jonathan Dienst has learned.
Raids by the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force in the Bronx captured the suspected ringleader and three followers in what law enforcement sources are calling a homegrown terrorist plot.
Investigators stress the suspects’ meetings had been infiltrated early on and there was “no chance” the alleged plot could succeed.
Investigators said several of the suspects are Muslims who allegedly talked about destroying two Jewish temples, including at least one in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.
Prosecutors also said the men discussed trying to shoot down military planes at Stewart Airport using stinger missiles.
The four suspects were identified as James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen.
The men ordered and accepted delivery of materials they believed were bomb-making ingredients, authorities said. But investigators said they made sure the materials the suspects received were inert. Officials tell WNBC they moved in now so the alleged plot could not progress any further.
The four men are in custody and are expected to be arraigned Thursday in White Plains federal court on terrorism-related counts.
An official announcement of the arrests is expected later Wednesday or Thursday morning.The motives behind the alleged plot are not yet known, but authorities said that Cromitie was apparently upset over the war in Afghanistan.
Since the 9/11 attacks, authorities have arrested suspects in a number of alleged plots against area targets including the Fort Dix New Jersey military base, John F. Kennedy Airport, the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Update: Mayor Bloomberg’s statement:
“I want to congratulate the men and women of the NYPD, the New York State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force who tonight foiled a terrorist plot that targeted Riverdale Temple and Riverdale Jewish Center in the Bronx for bombing. The same plot also targeted U.S. military aircraft in Newburgh for Stinger Missile attacks. While the bombs these terrorists attempted to plant tonight were – unbeknownst to them – fake, this latest attempt to attack our freedoms shows that the homeland security threats against New York City are sadly all too real and underscores why we must remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent terrorism.”
Update: Mary Katharine Ham has a roundup of links, including an example of why the New York Post sells newspapers.