Updated 08/24/2010 05:36 PM
Federal Prosecutors Outline Case Against Alleged Synagogue Bomb Plotters
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During opening arguments today, federal prosecutors outlined their case against four men accused of plotting to blow up two Bronx synagogues and shoot down military planes last year, focusing on their alleged relationship with a paid FBI informant.
Opening statements began this morning in the trial of James Cromitie, Onta Williams, David Williams, and Laguerre Payen.
All pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to use anti-aircraft missiles to kill U.S. officers and employees.
Defense attorneys charge that they were entrapped by a paid FBI informant, Shaheed Hussain, offered them money and fake explosives to carry out the attack.
In opening arguments, the prosecution said all four were prepared to go all the way through with a destructive and murderous plan.
They outlined the relationship between Hussain and the suspects. When Cromitie met Hussain at a mosque in Newburgh, N.Y., the informant was going by the alias "Maqsood" and pretending to be affiliated with a Pakistani terrorist organization.
Prosecutors say that Cromitie told Hussain that he hated Jews and wanted to hurt America because of their military involvement in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.
According to prosecutors, it was following that conversation that Hussain began to record conversations with the suspect.
Hussain said his group in Pakistan could provide the group with money, weapons and an escape plan. Shortly afterward, the plot was developed.
Prosecutors say the four men were videotaped planting bombs, which were fake and had been provided by the FBI, outside two Riverdale synagogues the night before their May arrest.
But, the attorney representing Cromitie, said it was the government who initiated the plot and persuaded him to get involved. He went on to say that the whole thing was "fiction" – "a movie written, directed and filmed" by the informant and Hussain.
The defendants face life in prison if convicted.