Four New York men were convicted of plotting to blow up synagogues and shoot down U.S. military aircraft after a trial hinging on the testimony of a paid FBI informant.
James Cromitie and three others had been accused of wanting to wage Muslim jihad in their own country, attacking the Jewish house of worship and a Jewish community centre in the Bronx, and firing Stinger missiles at planes at a nearby Air National Guard base. "Homegrown terrorism is a serious threat," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. "The defendants in this case agreed to plant bombs and use missiles they thought were very real weapons of terrorism. We are safer today as a result of these convictions."
The jury in Manhattan federal court took a week to reach the verdict following a trial in which the court heard how a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant lured the four men deeper and deeper into an extended sting operation. Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen were arrested on May 20, 2009 in a dramatic scene when they had just planted what they believed to be explosives at their targets.
The bombs were duds and the gang, which was taped expressing anger at Jews in general and at the US-led war in Afghanistan, was under surveillance throughout. Cromitie said that "if he were to die a martyr, he would go to 'paradise'". Cromitie also expressed an interest in doing "something to America", the prosecutor's office said in a statement after the verdict.