The evidence against four men accused of plotting to blow up two New York synagogues and shoot down military planes will be "overwhelming" when it is taken to trial, a legal analyst told FOXNews.com Thursday.
"From a prosecutorial point of view, I can't see any pitfalls," said Professor Jeffrey Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University Law School in San Antonio, Texas. "This is a prosecutor's dream."
The homegrown terror suspects — James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of whom are American citizens — were arrested late Wednesday after allegedly planting a 37-pound inert explosive device in the trunk of a car outside a synagogue and two mock bombs in another car outside a second nearby synagogue in the Bronx, N.Y.
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The four also sought to shoot down a military plane at an upstate Air National Guard base, according to a criminal complaint.
Addicott said the prosecution against the four terror suspects will likely hinge upon the assertion that the FBI and other agencies provided them with an inert missile and inactive C-4 explosives that they believed were deadly weapons.
The details of those "buys" will be crucial to the government's case, Addicott said.
He said the investigators "let this thing mature, blossom and develop up until they thought they were getting away it. It's going to be very hard to convince a jury that they were kidding."
Cromitie and both Williamses appeared in federal court in White Plains, N.Y., on Thursday, where they were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles. Payen was expected to appear in court later in the day.
Attorneys for the suspects did not seek bail. It is not known whether David and Onta Williams are related.
The suspects' defense is likely to center upon claims of entrapment, a tactic U.S. attorneys will be prepared for, Addicott said.
"The government knows that going in," he said. "It's much like drug stings; you have the same type of issue. That's why you don't do one sell. You do about 10 sells, so when the defense raises that issue, you're prepared."
Addicott said he expected the government's case to be very strong and questioned whether prosecutors would be willing to offer a plea deal.
"They're looking at the maximum," Addicott said. "If [the suspects'] lawyer has any sense at all, they'll cut a deal."
Addicott said the case has a "clear parallel" to that of the Liberty City Six – six Miami men charged with conspiring with Al Qaeda to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower three years ago. Earlier this month, a federal jury convicted five of the men and acquitted the sixth after two previous mistrials. Prosecutors in the case relied on secret recordings of phone calls and conversations in warehouses and homes in late 2005 and early 2006. Those convicted in the case face up to 70 years in prison when they are sentenced on July 27.
Attorney Nathan Clark, who represented Rotschild Augustine in the Liberty City Six case, said the alleged New York terror cell appears to be "more operational" than the one in Florida.
"Anytime you're using FBI informants, it appears that would be the defense in the case," Clark said, referring to the likelihood of an entrapment defense. "On the other hand, it looks like more of an operational case than an aspirational case. They allegedly went and planted the bombs."
Clark said the "degree of coercion" on behalf of the informants, if any, will be center to the case.
"And we don't have that information right now," he said.
Albert Levin, who represented another defendant, Patrick Abraham, in the Liberty City Six case, said he'd focus squarely on the history of the informant if he were defending the four New York suspects.
"It's really going to come down to whose idea was it, the defendants or the informants," Levin told FOXNews.com. "And to what extent did the defendants have the predisposition to commit the offense but for the actions of the informants?"
Levin said prosecutions involving informants are generally recorded, often with accompanying video footage.
"It's a question to what extent the informants did to lure or encourage the defendants to commit the acts," Levin said. "Basically, you need to find out the histories of these informants."