4 suspects in NYC terror plot plead not guilty
The four suspects accused of plotting to bomb two Jewish sites in the Bronx and shoot down military airplanes pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges during their arraignment Wednesday.
James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, N.Y., face a slew of charges, including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, and conspiracy to kill law enforcement officers and government employees.
The four men were arrested last month after allegedly planting C-4 explosives they believed to be real in front of Riverdale Temple and Riverdale Jewish Center in the Bronx. The mock explosives were provided to the suspects by an FBI informant, who also supplied them with an inactive missile. The men allegedly planned to shoot down military planes at the Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh.
Imam Salahudden M. Muhammad, the leader of the Newburgh mosque where several of the suspects sometimes prayed, says an FBI informant offered the men $25,000 to take part in the terror plot.
"I believe these individuals were coached, cultivated, and I believe they were prompted," he says.
However, the intended victims of the alleged terror plot denounce the claims that the suspects were entrapped by the FBI.
"Clearly they seem to be people who were happy about the idea of killing Jews," says Riverside Temple Rabbi Judith Lewis.
During the arraignment at the White Plains Federal Courthouse Wednesday morning, the judge tried to determine if the suspects are fit to stand trial. According to Payen's attorney, his client is schizophrenic and has difficulty answering questions, but federal prosecutors insist that Payen is pretending. They claim to have a recording of the suspect speaking clearly about the plot, and even outlining ways to get out of trouble if caught.
The suspects are scheduled to appear in court Friday for a pre-trial hearing. If convicted, the four men could face life in prison.
For interview with former federal prosecutor on indictments in the alleged terror plot, go to your digital cable box and select iO Extra, Ch. 612.