Russell Defreitas: Terrorist or Political Prisoner? – by Stephen Lendman
Many hundreds of wrongfully convicted men and women languish unjustly in US federal and state prisons, victims of judicial unfairness, get tough on crime policies, a guilty unless proved innocent mentality, three strikes and you’re out, and America’s bogus war on terror, entrapping law-abiding people for political advantage, especially Muslim’s, Washington’s target of choice.
Russell Defreitas is one of many, victimized by what the Innocence Project (IP) calls “McJustice – the crisis of indigent defense,” or in Defreitas’ case, FBI entrapment. No wonder IP tries to free “the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.”
Prosecutorial misconduct includes:
— targeting the innocent;
— using bogus charges to indict;
— coercing false confessions;
— intentionally lying or misleading jurors;
— withholding or destroying exculpatory evidence;
— using secret evidence withheld from defense; and
— entrapping targets lawlessly with stings and/or criminals induced to cooperate for better treatment.
On June 3, 2007, New York Times writers Cara Buckley and William Rashbaum headlined, “4 Men Accused of Plot to Blow Up Kennedy Airport Terminals and Fuel Lines,” saying:
“Four men,” including Russell Defreitas, “a onetime airport cargo handler and a former member of the Parliament of Guyana, were charged yesterday….” One was arrested in Brooklyn and two others were detained in Trinidad, (while) the fourth man was still at large.”
On June 2, Defreitas, a naturalized US citizen, was arraigned in federal court. New York assistant FBI field office director Mark Mershon said all four men had “fundamentalist Islamic beliefs of a violent nature,” suggesting they were guilty of being Muslims in America at the wrong time.
On August 2, 2010, Times writer AG Sulzberger headlined, “2 Men Convicted in Kennedy Airport Plot,” saying:
Ending a monthlong trial, “(a) federal jury found two Guyanese men (Russell Defreitas and Abdul Kadir) guilty….of conspiring to attack Kennedy International Airport (by) set(ting) off a series of explosions along a pipeline that cuts through New York City.”
Like numerous other cases, there was no plot or crime, just “conspiracy” to commit one, the charge used when clear evidence is lacking. In fact, conspiring or attempting to blow up Kennedy Airport is impossible. Other implausible cases charged plots to attack the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Times Square, Wall Street, and Chicago’s Sears Tower.
Also alleged others against US soldiers at Fort Dix, NJ, US marines at Quantico, VA, National Guard jets with stinger missiles, Pakistan’s ambassador with a surface-to-air missile, and others just as preposterous.
They include a fake shoe bomber, fake underwear bomber, an earlier Times Square bomber, fake shampoo bombers, fake Al Qaeda woman planning fake attacks, fake Oregon bomber, fake armed forces recruiting station bomber, fake 9/11 bombers, and others to stoke fear and enlist public support for the fake war on terror.
All cases entrapped Muslims. Accusations against them were spurious, yet they were arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to long imprisonments – for their faith at the wrong time, not conspiracy to commit crimes.
Entrapment is commonly used, occurring when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn’t be committed. However, it doesn’t apply in cases of willingness to act lawlessly, government merely aiding, abetting, or facilitating a good chance to do so.
— government officials or agents initiating the idea; then
— persuading individuals to discuss, plan or commit actions they otherwise never intended.
To convict, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt no entrapment was used. In fact, it’s a common technique to convict innocent people, targeted for political or other reasons.
Sulzberger said the alleged JFK plot “never advanced beyond the conceptual stage (if that), and the planning sessions, some of which were recorded by a confidential informant, were alternately grandiose and absurd….As in (similar) cases, the threat as officials described it….seemed to exceed the suspects’ capacity,” let alone their intent.
Moreover, convicted drug trafficker Steven Francis was the informant, recruited in return for leniency, again a commonly used scheme, freed or given reduced sentences for cooperating to entrap. In fact, they’re sometimes paid handsomely for services rendered.
US Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf called Defreitas a “homegrown terrorist” planning to cause “unfathomable damage, deaths and destruction.” Kadir, a former Guyanese mayor and parliamentary member, was described as a secondary figure, one of several involved in facilitating the plot by providing advice and contacts. It was untrue.
In fact, during trial, entrapment became clear, Sulzberger saying Francis “played a somewhat enabling (financial and logistical support) role in pushing forward the plot,” that wouldn’t have existed in any form without him.
On February 17, 2011, New York Times writer Colin Moynihan headlined, “Life Sentence for Leader of Terror Plot at Kennedy,” saying:
“Ringleader” Defreitas was sentenced to life imprisonment (as was Kadir) on charges Federal District Court Judge Dora Irizarry called “extremely serious.”
His lawyer, Mildred Whalen called him more disagreeable than dangerous, “a man with a small mind, a big mouth and an ugly imagination.” He and others “were more aspirational than operational. Until the government got involved, this was talk” without action, smoke without fire, hyperbole (if that) with no intent.
Prosecutor Marshall Miller inverted truth saying Defreitas led the conspiracy. Francis merely followed, not acting as a paid government provocateur/informant.
A February 17 New York Field Office press release said Defreitis “originated the idea to attack JFK Airport and its fuel tanks and pipelines by drawing on his prior experience working at the airport as a cargo handler. (He) recruited others (in the) plot during multiple trips to Guyana and Trinidad.”
“Between trips, (he) engaged in video surveillance of JFK Airport and transported (it) back to Guyana to show Kadir and their co-conspirators. Kadir, a trained engineer with (alleged) connections to militant groups in Iran and Venezuela, provided the conspirators with links to individuals with terrorist experience, advice on explosive materials, and a bank account through which to finance the terrorist attack.”
In fact, from the start, FBI operatives orchestrated everything. According to Defreitis’ attorney Whelan:
He “can’t mastermind his way out of an on-off-switch on a video camera,” let alone plan an intricate plot. He’s, in fact, “a guppy the government (tried) to pass off as a shark,” an innocent man with a big mouth. Moreover, Francis not only bought the video camera, but taught him how to use if, and supplied transportation to entrap. He created the plot. “I think it’s clear these guys couldn’t (and didn’t) act on their own….”
Kadir’s attorney, Kafahni Nkrumah, said he “never assisted in advancing the (alleged) objectives of the conspiracy.” He was only on the receiving end of phone calls and visits, declined to travel with his co-defendants, and never came to New York. He added that practicing Shia Islam is no crime. “We live in a dangerous world, but convicting an innocent man doesn’t make us safer.”
On August 4, 2010, Wilkes University and University of Scranton Professor Paul L. Williams headlined, “Would Be Terrorists Become Victims of Federal Entrapment,” saying:
“The JFK plot (was) a ploy. (It) was conceived not by a radical Islamic group but rather by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” They engineered it, according to court records, to capture Adnan el Shukrijumah, “the Most Wanted Terrorist in the Western Hemisphere.”
A US citizen, he allegedly was enlisted to lead a homeland terrorist attack, FBI Director Robert Mueller and other intelligence officials calling it “the American Hiroshima,” whether or not true.
In 2003, information suggested he was in Guyana, protected by Rarouk Razac, “a family friend and well-heeled financier.” He was seen at the Swiss House Cambio, Razac’s money exchange. There he met Imam Humammed Hassan Abrahemi, director of the International Islamic College for Advanced Studies (ICAS), allegedly funded by Iran.
Abdul Kadir served as ICAS’s assistant director. Defreitas was a Guyanese parliamentary member and Jamaat ul-Muslimeen leader. “This new association (lead) to a plot to a botched FBI sting” and alleged attempt to blow up JFK Airport fuel lines.
On April 2, 2004, two masked men kidnapped Abrahemi, his body found two days later. No one was ever caught. “By this time, the FBI had infiltrated Jamaat ul-Muslimeen,” posing as jihadis, working with Kadir and Dufreitas to find Shukrijumah.
Supplying funds and logistical support, they hatched the JFK scheme, what US Attorney Mauskoff called “one of the most chilling plots imaginable,” able to cause “unthinkable devastation.” In fact, it’s technically impossible to achieve. “Jet fuel does not produce explosive force, and the pipelines and fuel tanks that are buried in Queens have safety valves to prevent any mishap.”
FBI officials, however, apparently thought this type plot would lure Shukrijumah from hiding. It didn’t. He never appeared at Trinidad or Guyana planning sessions. Instead, Dufreitas, Kadir and two others were entrapped and arrested. FBI officials admitted Shukrijumah’s capture “would have been the prize.”
So far, he’s still at large. Dufreitas and Kadir, however, got life sentences, though committed no crime. Like hundreds of others, they’re victims of America’s war on terror, targeting innocent men and women for political advantage.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.