-says feigned interest to acquire funds for mosque
Former PNCR parliamentarian Abdul Kadir yesterday denied involvement in a terrorism scheme aimed at New York City as the trial involving him and three others continued in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.
According to a report in the New York Times, Kadir, who like the others is facing five counts of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, said that he was not involved in the terrorism scheme, saying that he had feigned interest in the plan because he hoped its architects would help him raise money to build a mosque.
Kadir, along with Abdel Nur, Russel Defreitas and Kareem Ibrahim are indicted in a plot to try to blow up fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Abdel Nur, pleaded guilty in June to a count of providing material support for terrorism while Kareem Ibrahim, was granted a separate trial.
Soon after being sworn before Judge Dora L Irizzary, Kadir took the stand yesterday and wasted little time in declaring his innocence, the report stated.
He listened as his lawyer, Kafahni Nkrumah, asked if he had agreed to “commit a crime in the United States, specifically attacking gas tanks at J.F.K. International Airport?”, and he responded tersely, “No, sir,”
The report stated that Kadir was more expansive in detailing his personal history, describing his schooling and his years as a Guyanese technocrat. He testified that he had seven children, two stepchildren and 24 grandchildren. The former Linden Mayor described himself as a devout Shia Muslim who had converted from Catholicism and who yearned to build a mosque near his home in Linden, where he served as mayor.
The prosaic description, the report stated was challenged by prosecutors, who entered into evidence photographs taken in Guyana showing Kadir and some of his children brandishing dangerous-looking firearms. The authorities said Kadir planned to show photographs of him — shirtless, and with pistols shoved into his waistband — to extremists in Iran to bolster his image and gain support for the plan to blow up the fuel tanks.
But Kadir testified that most of the weapons in the photographs were toys. And he said he never intended to show the pictures in Iran, where he said viewers would most likely be offended by images of a shirtless man without traditional Muslim garb. While prosecutors portrayed him as an eager participant in the plot, Kadir testified that he had feigned enthusiasm.
A complaint filed by the United States attorney’s office said that on Feb. 19, 2007, Defreitas and the informant, Steven Francis, showed Kadir a videotape of the airport fuel tanks.
“Kadir expressed interest, saying that he needed a few weeks to contact some associates who would probably help them,” the complaint stated.
In court, Kadir said that he demurred that day when invited to join the plot, but that after being asked if he knew others who might assist, he replied, “Give me a few weeks.”
According to the report, Kadir did not want to respond negatively; he said, because he was hoping that Defreitas and Mr. Francis would help introduce him to rich American Muslims who might help finance a mosque in Guyana. “I did not want to sever or cut off the relationship with them,” he said.
Prosecutors have said that the men, who were exposed with the help of a convicted drug trafficker turned informant, were out to cause a catastrophe that would dwarf the destruction of the World Trade Center. Some law enforcement officials, however, have questioned if the men had the ability to do substantial damage.