Iran TerrorismPolice, FBI plan to examine Iran links in JFK...

Police, FBI plan to examine Iran links in JFK plot


New York Sun: As New York police and the FBI interview suspects in an alleged plot to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport, one thread the ongoing investigation will explore is why one of the suspects was planning to go to Iran. The New York Sun

BY ELI LAKE – Staff Reporter of the Sun

WASHINGTON — As New York police and the FBI interview suspects in an alleged plot to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport, one thread the ongoing investigation will explore is why one of the suspects was planning to go to Iran.

A former Guyanese legislator, Abdul Kadir, was arrested in Trinidad on Friday on a plane bound for Caracas, Venezuela. According to Mr. Kadir’s wife, Isha Kadir, he was in the island nation to pick up an Iranian visa so he could attend an Islamic conference in Tehran. Two of Mr. Kadir’s children are studying in Iran, according to Mrs. Kadir.

Trinidad’s counterterrorism police are also investigating whether one of Mr. Kadir’s alleged co-conspirators, a 56-year old Shiite imam in Trinidad named Kareem Ibrahim, had ties to Shiite organizations in southern Iraq and Iran through an Islamic discussion group he hosted, according to the Trinidad Express.

In interviews in the Guyanese press, Mrs. Kadir said her husband’s Iran connection was likely the reason the FBI was requesting his extradition.

“We are shocked, we are not part of these things,” she was quoted by Kaieteur News in Guyana. “To begin with, we are not Al Qaeda … we are Shia. My husband is a decent, devoted, intelligent Muslim. Both of us have relatives in the United States. It would be nonsensical for him to plot something like this.”

An FBI spokesman in New York would not comment on the fact that Mr. Kadir was on his way to Iran when he was arrested, noting only that the investigation into the plot against New York’s largest airport was ongoing.

However, a law enforcement official who requested anonymity said the Iran connection was a lead the investigators would be following.

If Iran’s hand is found behind the JFK airport plot, it would raise an alarm about the Islamic Republic’s recent alliances with America’s hemispheric enemies. Since the 2005 ascendance of President Ahmadinejad in Iran, the Iranian regime has strengthened ties with such leaders as President Castro of Cuba, President Chavez of Venezuela, and even President Reagan’s one-time foe, President Ortega of Nicaragua.

Mr. Chavez, for example, has signed a series of cooperation agreements with Iran and allowed Iranian television producers to consult on Venezuela’s plan to offer a Spanish-language satellite television station. The Venezuelans have also allowed the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which receives funds and guidance from Tehran, to operate openly in their country.

A former FBI officer who until 2003 was in charge of the counterterrorism unit that monitored Iran and Hezbollah, Kenneth Piernick, said yesterday that he would not be surprised if the plotters had a connection to the Iranian regime.

“The fact of the matter is that the Iranians are a bunch of sneaky bastards. They are going to take care of anyone who hurts us. I am not at all surprised that they might have been trying to provide him cover to get out of the region,” he said in a telephone interview.

While the New York police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, stressed Saturday that as far as he knew, the plot was not connected to Al Qaeda, the indictment says the plotters sought assistance from the Guyanese Islamist group known as Jaamat al Muslimeen, or the Muslim Group. In 1990, 100 members of Jaamat al Muslimeen attempted a coup in Guyana that resulted in widespread riots. The leader of the group is expected to face trial this month in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown.

According to an analyst at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington, D.C., Chris Zambelis, Jaamat al Muslimeen has never focused on international operations and was restricted primarily to organized crime. The organization also preaches a strict Sunni doctrine, wile Mr. Kadir is a Shiite, a branch of Islam that fundamentalist Sunnis regard as heretic.

Mr. Piernick said it was not wise to make too much of the differences between the Muslim branches when it came to Iran’s role in supporting anti-American terror.

“Shia Hezbollah has trained Sunnis in military operations without concern for their sect in Islam. What is of concern is that they are able to engage in terrorist acts,” he said. “Al Qaeda has found sanctuary in Iran. Is this guy in a payroll? I don’t know. Are they willing to help him out, a fellow Muslim against the ‘Great Satan’? Yes, I think they would.”

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