NEW YORK – A former government official in Guyana on Wednesday denied allegations that he was a militant Muslim who spied for Iran years before joining a plot to blow up New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Testifying at his federal terror trial in Brooklyn, Abdul Kadir told jurors that he had sought to distance himself from his alleged co-conspirators once he learned they wanted to attack Kennedy Airport. He claimed he warned them it was against their religion.
"Islam does not support aggression or killing innocent people," he recalled saying to them.
Kadir and co-defendant Russell Defreitas — a former cargo handler and naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana — have pleaded not guilty to charges they plotted in 2007 to kill thousands of people and cripple the American economy by using explosives to blow up the jet fuel storage tanks at the sprawling airport and fuel lines running beneath nearby neighborhoods in Queens.
Prosecutors allege Defreitas did reconnaissance on the airport and he and Kadir sought to get the backing of a terror group in Trinidad to "cause greater destruction than in the Sept. 11 attacks." But the plot — after being infiltrated by a convicted drug dealer who went undercover to make a series of secret tapes — never got beyond the planning stages.
Kadir took the witness stand this week to deny he was involved in the scheme. He described himself as a devout Muslim who once served as mayor of his hometown, Linden, Guyana, and in the Guyanese Parliament.
On cross-examination Wednesday, prosecutors confronted him with evidence he had drafted reports on Guyanese politics and economics in the 1980s and 1990s for an Iranian diplomat in Venezuela. One document referenced a plan to spread Islamic influence in Guyana.
Kadir admitted he had written the reports but denied involvement in espionage or radical causes.
"Is it fair to say you're a spy for the Iranian government?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall asked.
"No sir," Kadir replied.