Bomb-Plot Witness Says FBI Sent Him to Terrorist Camp
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The confidential informant at the center of the case against four men accused of plotting to bomb New York City synagogues testified that the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent him to Pakistan in 2008 to attend a terrorist training camp.
The informant, Shahed Hussain, told a jury in New York today he went to his native country in December of that year to meet someone at the camp. He didn't identify the organization running the camp or discuss the result of the investigation.
"Are you a terrorist?" defense lawyer Susanne Brody asked Hussain in cross-examination.
"No ma'am," he responded.
Hussain was testifying during the second day of cross- examination by Brody, a lawyer with the federal public defender's office who is representing defendant Onta Williams.
Defense attorneys have argued that their clients are the victims of entrapment, poor men enticed into the plot with the promise of cars, cash and food by Hussain.
Hussain said he comes from a family that owned businesses in Pakistan including restaurant chains and a construction- supply company. One of his cars, a BMW, was a gift from former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 2003, while she was in exile in the U.S. and staying in Manhattan, he testified.
Bhutto, a two-time prime minister, was killed in a suicide bombing at a rally of her Pakistan People's Party in Rawalpindi on Dec. 27, 2007.
Hussain said he was a member of the MQM party that represents people who emigrated from India at the time of Pakistan's independence in 1947. He left his native country under the threat of death after being arrested three times, twice for a murder he didn't commit, he said. He was released when his father bribed a police official, he testified.
The trial of Williams, 34, James Cromitie, 44, David Williams, 29, and Laguerre Payen, 28, all of Newburgh, New York, began Aug. 23 before Judge Colleen McMahon in federal court in Lower Manhattan.
The men are accused of plotting to bomb a synagogue and Jewish community center in the Bronx section of New York City and fire heat-seeking missiles at military planes at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh.
The charges include conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction in the U.S. They face as long as life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.
The case is U.S. v. Cromitie, 09-cr-00558, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).