Former PNCR parliamentarian Abdul Kadir, who was found guilty of plotting to blow up fuel tanks at the John F Kennedy Airport, was today sentenced to life imprisonment in a New York Court by Judge Dora Irizarry, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
The report said that before the sentence was imposed, Kadir told the judge that he was a peace-loving man who never wanted to harm Americans.
“There can be no doubt whatsoever that the offences for which Mr Kadir was convicted are about as serious as they come, short of actual murder,” Irizarry was quoted as saying before sentencing by Bloomberg Businessweek.
Kadir, meanwhile, maintained his innocence. “Every unbiased and unprejudiced person knows that I am innocent,” he said. “I may have acted foolishly and said some things that definitely were wrong,” he told the judge. “But I contend that at no time did I ever join in consciously, and have any desire to be part of a plot that would have destroyed people and properties of this country.”
Kadir’s lawyers, in a letter to Irizzary on Dec. 1, sought a sentence of less than the 40 years recommended by the Department of Probation. They argued that Kadir had no criminal record, that his involvement in the plot was limited and that he had been offered a 15-year sentence to plead guilty to providing material assistance to terrorism.
In June, after deliberating for five days, the jury delivered guilty verdicts for Kadir and Russel Defreitas. Defreitas’s lawyers have since asked that his sentencing be deferred because of new information they want to investigate. The judge has set January 21 for his sentencing.
Kadir and Defreitas were convicted on five counts of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. Defreitas was also convicted of surveillance of an airport, a charge for which Kadir was acquitted.
Kadir, 58, served as a PNCR MP in the eighth Parliament of Guyana, from 2002 to 2006. He is also a former mayor of Linden. He was arrested in June 2007 on a plane in Trinidad on his way to Iran. Defreitas, 67, is a United States citizen and was once employed as a cargo handler at the JFK airport. Two other men, Abdel Nur and Donald Nero, have pleaded guilty to participating in the plot, while another man, Kareem Ibrahim, is still awaiting trial. The bomb plot was hatched in January 2006 and reportedly involved blowing up jet fuel tanks leading to the airport.
Kadir had testified that he was not involved in the terrorism scheme but that he had feigned interest in the plan because he hoped its architects would help him raise money to build a mosque.
The prosaic description, a newspaper report on the trial 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.
Kadir’s decision to testify in his defence caused his profile to grow. Once on the stand, the prosecution confronted him with evidence of his ties to Iran. The evidence included letters Kadir wrote to the Iranian ambassador to Venezuela and to the Iranian diplomat who has been accused of leading a major terrorist plot in South America, the New York Times reported.
While on the stand, Kadir denied an accusation by the US that he spent years secretly working as a spy for Iran and that he allegedly relayed information about Guyana’s economy, foreign policy and military to Iranian officials. However, according to a Bloomberg report, Kadir admitted under cross-examination that he drafted regular reports for the Iranian ambassador to Venezuela, including details like the “low morale” in the Guyanese army. The documents he allegedly drafted included a five-year development plan to promote Islam in Guyana, which included references to infiltrating the military, police and other government agencies. Legal analysts had said that putting Kadir on the witness stand was a mistake.
The conviction of the duo was the first for Guyanese in a terror plot against the United States since 9/11 and a security expert had expressed concerns that it was likely to put the country under even greater scrutiny, given Kadir’s prominence and his ties to Iran. Prior to the conviction, Guyana had only been mentioned in connection with Adnan El-Shukrijumah, whose father is Guyanese and who US authorities had suspected of links to the 9/11 plotters.
It was thought that El-Shukrijumah was the real target in the JFK bomb plot investigation. It is believed that it was Shukrijumah’s reported presence in Guyana that propelled US authorities to send informant and star witness in the trial, Steven Francis to Guyana in an attempt to lure the elusive terrorist into the trap of plotting to blow up the JFK airport.
But instead Francis met Kadir, Abdul Nur and later Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim.
Francis visited Guyana in the company of Defreitas, who according to federal authorities said he was the mastermind of the plot to blow up the airport.
Reports are that while he was in Guyana, Shukrijumah was once safe and secure under the protection of Swiss House Cambio boss Farouk Razac, who died in May 2007 under mysterious circumstances at his home.
According to reports, Shukrijumah was spotted at the Swiss House Cambio by several witnesses, including self-proclaimed death squad informant George Bacchus.
It was at the cambio that Shukrijumah reportedly met one of Razac’s closest clients, Imam Muhammed Hassan Abrahemi, the director of the International Islamic College for Advanced Studies, a small Shiite school in Georgetown that received large amounts of revenue from the government of Iran. And it was there he also allegedly became acquainted with Nur, who ran errands for Razac and Kadir, who served as the assistant director at Abrahemi’s Islamic College.
Abrahemi was kidnapped by two masked men as he was leaving the Islamic College on April 2, 2004 and many days later his body was discovered in a shallow grave on the outskirts of Georgetown.