A judge denied bail Monday for three suspects accused of plotting to bomb New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, ordering them to remain in jail until a hearing on a U.S. request for their extradition.
The three men — Kareem Ibrahim, Abdul Kadir and Abdel Nur — smiled and waved to about 20 supporters and family members in the courtroom but did not speak. A son of Kadir said FBI agents had questioned relatives over the weekend.
Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicols said he was denying bail “given the nature and the seriousness of the offense,” and ordered them to remain in jail until an Aug. 2 hearing on a U.S. extradition request.
The suspects, arrested this month in the twin-island Caribbean nation, are accused of participating in a Muslim terror cell that planned to blow up a jet fuel artery that runs through residential neighborhoods and feeds Kennedy airport.
The alleged mastermind of the plot, U.S. citizen Russell Defreitas, 63, is a Guyana native who worked as a cargo handler at the airport until 1995. He is in custody in New York.
U.S. authorities claim the alleged plotters unsuccessfully sought support in Trinidad from Jamaat al Muslimeen, a radical Islamic group that staged a deadly coup attempt here in 1990.
Rajiv Persad, an attorney for Kadir and Ibrahim, argued for their release on bail, noting they do not have criminal records and that Kadir served until last year as an opposition legislator in Guyana’s parliament.
“There is no evidence that these men would abscond, given that they are solid members of their communities,” Persad said.
Defense attorneys said Kadir and Nur, who are from Guyana, have relatives in Trinidad they could stay with if granted bail. Ibrahim is from Trinidad.
Relatives and acquaintances of the suspects have expressed skepticism that they would be capable of organizing an international plot.
“We know that the allegations are all fabricated,” said Talibah Ali, a member of the mosque where Ibrahim is a Shiite cleric.
Attorney: Terrorists 'come in all fashions'
But Israel Khan, an attorney who represented the U.S. government at the bail hearing, said, “You cannot look at a person and say that he looks like a terrorist or not. They come in all fashions.”
“There is evidence of conversations of them plotting to carry out this offense,” he added.
In court, Khan handed defense attorneys pictures that he said depicted Kadir and his family carrying semiautomatic weapons and handguns. He offered to show them to the judge, who replied, “I don’t need to see them at this stage.”
Over the weekend, agents from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation accompanied by local police interviewed two children of Abdul Kadir in Guyana, his son Salim Kadir told The Associated Press on Monday.
“We were questioned by about four FBI agents but we have nothing to hide,” he said, adding that documents were seized from the family’s home, though he did not provide specifics.
Abdul Kadir, 55, a former mayor of Linden, Guyana, was taken off a plane in Trinidad and arrested as he prepared to fly to Iran through Venezuela to attend an international Islamic conference.