JFK plot suspect committed in Trinidad
| Monday, Apr 14 2008 4:43 PM
Last Updated: Monday, Apr 14 2008 4:53 PM
A Muslim cleric suspected in an alleged plot to blow up New York‘s John F. Kennedy Airport has been hospitalized in Trinidad after suffering a mental breakdown, his lawyer said Monday.
Kareem Ibrahim has wept, rambled incoherently and often appeared agitated in recent meetings, said defense attorney Farid Scoon, who is trying to block his client’s extradition to the United States.
“He has been delusional, paranoid, with changes of personality,” Scoon told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “It’s not like you’re speaking to somebody who’s absolutely out of it, but if you sit long enough with him, you see he’s not with it.”
Trinidadian authorities hospitalized Ibrahim on April 7, removing him from a jail where he had been held pending U.S. attempts to extradite him and two other men in the alleged plot.
The other two suspects, Abdel Nur and Abdul Kadir, both from Guyana, are fighting their extradition as well.
A lower court approved Ibrahim’s extradition in February, but Scoon filed an appeal, which will be heard in July.
Ibrahim’s lawyers previously had argued that he should not be sent to the U.S. because he suffers from diabetes and claustrophobia. Scoon said the defendant’s hospitalization shows his physical and mental health have declined and it would be “unjust and oppressive” to send him to the United States, where he could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said his office would not comment on Ibrahim’s condition.
St. Ann‘s Psychiatric Hospital in Port-of-Spain confirmed Ibrahim was a patient but would not disclose details about his condition. Jail officials declined comment.
Ibrahim, a cleric at a Trinidad mosque, was arrested last June and accused of conspiring to blow up fuel lines feeding the JFK airport. The reputed ringleader of the alleged plot, U.S. citizen and former airport cargo employee Russell Defreitas, is in custody in New York awaiting trial.
Lawyers for the suspects have argued that a confidential U.S. government informant entrapped the men into plotting the attack, but that there never was any real threat.
“They have maintained all along that a certain gentleman, the source, is an agent provocateur who came to them with the expressed purpose of involving them in this quite outlandish plot to blow up the JFK airport,” Scoon said.
A U.S. indictment charges the men with conspiring to “cause death, serious bodily injury and extensive destruction.”