The Islamic Post Blog

NY Judge Orders Media Seal on Trinidad Terror Case by Khalida
June 17, 2008, 3:43 pm
Filed under: July Volume I- 2008, Latino/Caribe | Tags: , , ,

By Islamic Post Staff Writer

New York judge Dora Irizarry, appointed by former mayor Rudy Giuliani to the criminal bench in 1996, ruled of late that none of the information released to the defense in Russell Defreitas’ case, including all transcripts, notes and other documents determined to be evidence by the prosecution, may be shared with the media.
The Guyanese-born man was accused along with three others, of plotting to blow up John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, after an alleged sting operation involving a U.S. informant. Defreitas, who has been held in a Brooklyn jail since June last year, is now accused of being the mastermind behind the plan. The judge said anyone who breached that order would be in contempt of court, according to Caribbean360.
Prosecutors said Defreitas, a 63-year-old former J.F.K. airport worker, conducted surveillance of the airport using photographs, a video camera and satellite images. The prosecution also claimed that the men used their connections to present a terrorist plot to radical groups in South America and the Caribbean, also according to Caribbean360.
Defreitas’ co-accused, former Guyanese parliamentarian, Abdul Kadir, his countryman Abdel Nur and Trinidadian, Kareem Ibrahim, were in custody  in Trinidad and Tobago until late last month, fighting extradition to the U.S..
Reuters reported back in December that Kareem Ibrahim was undergoing a psychiatric test to see if he could be sent to the United States for trial. Local reporters confirm that he was being held at St. Anne’s hospital, otherwise known as “The Mad-House.” The extradition took place on June 23.

(…article continues below)


Huda Ibrahim (right), 21, claims that her

father was entrapped by Steve Francis Taveras (left) 36, now publicly known by his background as a twice convicted drug felon working under cooperation deals with U.S. federal authorities

(Terry DeSouza AKA Steve Francis Taveras, Trinidad Daily Express photo; Huda Ibrahim, AFP/Getty Images)


More “aspirational” than operational.
During the appellate hearing in Trinidad, defense attorney Fyard Hosein said the U.S. government had not presented any evidence to show the men were involved in a terrorist plot. He said the men lacked the funds and capacity to organize such a thing, claimed the men had been entrapped by an informant who was working with U.S. law enforcement in order to reduce his own sentence for drug trafficking. “From the evidence, none of the claimants are originators of this plot,” Hosein said.
CaribWorldNews reported that the informant, Steve Francis Taveras (AKA Terry DeSouza, AKA Anas Knaddert), while working with law enforcement agents, began monitoring the plot at its early stages and made numerous recorded conversations with the defendants.

Huda Ibrahim, daughter of Kareem Ibrahim, issued a statement to the media last year claiming U.S. justice officials had engaged in entrapment: “Unfortunately, innocent persons with no connection whatsoever to the political and military disputes between the United States and the Middle East …have been used as pawns in an international game of subterfuge.”
Authorities have acknowledged the plot was more “aspirational” than operational.
Prior to the media seal on the case, investigators [full story] were able to access information about the informant, releasing facts about his prior drug convictions. Francis was arrested by detectives assigned to an NYPD Tactical Narcotics Team. He was nabbed carrying a Gap bag containing five kilogram packages of cocaine. A subsequent search of a Kingsbridge apartment connected to Francis turned up 44 more kilo-sized packages. When asked about his cocaine-filled satchel, Francis told one officer that he “just found the bag.” At the time of his bust, a kilo of cocaine wholesaled for about $25,000. Since the street value was double that amount, the coke seized from Francis was worth around $2 million. Indicted on four felony charges, Francis was jailed and his bail was set at $1 million.
Francis remained in custody, records show, for nearly a year, until mid-December 2003. It was then that Francis cut his second cooperation deal. The first took place in 1994 after Francis was arrested by federal agents and charged with distributing “large quantities” of cocaine in West Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens. Though federal guidelines called for an “imprisonment range” of between 27 and 34 years, Francis was only given a seven-year sentence.
While the nature and extent of his 1990’s government cooperation remains confidential, and the 2003 agreement and guilty plea are not part of the public record, the criminal complaint in the JFK terror case notes that, “The Source was…convicted on drug trafficking charges in the New York Supreme Court in 2003. His sentence in that case is pending as part of his cooperation agreement with the government.”
Francis’ bail was slashed from $1 million to $50,000. He was released after his older brother deposited $5000 with the court.
As for what Francis was doing for the State Department in 2004, 2005, and early-2006, and the extent of the “financial assistance” that officials said they provided to him, it was originally thought that the details may have surfaced at the trial, but now it seems the world may never know.

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