Joys of diversity: Muslims to kill thousands of people and trigger an economic catastrophe, plot thwarted.
By LARRY McSHANE
NEW YORK — A convicted drug dealer who agreed to pose as a wannabe terrorist among a shadowy group now accused of plotting to blow up John F. Kennedy International Airport secretly fed information to federal investigators in exchange for a lighter sentence.
His surveillance trips to the airport with the suspects, travels abroad to meet with supporters and assurances he wanted to die as a martyr in an attack on an underground jet fuel pipeline gave counterterrorism agents insight and evidence that experts say was otherwise unattainable.
And his help once again demonstrated the growing importance of informants in the war on terrorism, particularly as smaller radical groups become more aggressive.
"In most cases, you can't get from A to B without an informant," said Tom Corrigan, a former member of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force. "Most times when an informant tells you what is going on, speculation becomes reality."
According to court papers and investigators, the informant began working for the government in 2004, after his second drug-trafficking conviction in New York, and he quickly proved to be a credible source.
He was sent to meet with the JFK plot's alleged mastermind Russell Defreitas in 2006 and was introduced by an unidentified third party. Defreitas quickly accepted the informant as legitimate, saying he was sure they knew each other through a Brooklyn mosque.
The informant was convincing. Defreitas, according to a federal complaint, believed the informant "had been sent by Allah to be the one" to pull off the bombing.
Four Muslim men are accused of plotting to use explosives to destroy a jet fuel pipeline that runs through populous residential neighborhoods to the airport, which they allegedly believed would kill thousands of people and trigger an economic catastrophe.