The four men accused in a failed plot to blow up two Bronx synagogues and shoot a military plane out of the sky are "extremely violent men" who are "eager to bring violence to Jews," federal prosecutors said today.
The alleged homegrown terrorists -- who plotted a night of carnage in and around New York City but instead were busted by authorities -- boasted that they'd like to get a synagogue, said prosecutor Eric Snyder as the suspects appeared in federal court in White Plains this afternoon.
They were "disappointed...that the best target (the World Trade Center) was hit already," he said, adding that the men were "eager to bring death to Jews."
Earlier in the day, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the men -- three American-born and one from Haiti -- desired to bring jihad to America.
“They stated that they wanted to commit Jihad,” Kelly said. “They were disturbed about what happened in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that Muslims were being killed.”
But the homegrown terrorists' plot was foiled, and local leaders and an anxious and shocked community in Riverdale breathed a sigh of relief.
"The NYPD did exactly what they're trained to do," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this morning in Riverdale "And have prevented what could have been a terrible event in our city,"
James Cromitie, 55; David Williams, 28; Onta Williams, 32; and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, were charged today with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles.
All the suspects appeared in federal court in White Plains, their hands shackled to their waists. Lawyers for the defendants did not seek bail. Payen, who is from Haiti, appeared in court later in the day after seeking medical treatment, officials said. It is not clear if the treatment was for medical or mental issues, as he has both, officials said.
"To think that we don’t live in a world that’s dangerous, it’s just not realistic," Bloomberg said today.
Mayor Bloomberg and Kelly met privately with congregants inside the Riverdale Temple, which is located across the street from a school.
“The shock and being floored was followed by relief,” David Winter, executive director of the Riverdale Jewish Center, said afterward.
The suspects were arrested Wednesday night, shortly after planting a mock explosive device in the trunk of a car outside the Riverdale Temple and two mock bombs in the backseat of a car outside the Jewish Center, authorities said. A trusted FBI informant had given the plotters fake bomb-making equipment, a federal complaint revealed. The suspects also allegedly had wanted to shoot down a military plane with a surface-to-air Stringer missile.
"There only has to be one that we miss," Gov. David Paterson said during a press conference in the Bronx. "I hope this is a wake-up call to a lot of people who I think want to move on as we all do, and want to be safe when they walk down the street every day."
Rep. Peter King, the senior Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, was briefed on the case following the arrests.
“This was a long, well-planned investigation, and it shows how real the threat is from homegrown terrorists,” said King, of New York.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said if there can be any good news out of this case it's that “the group was relatively unsophisticated, penetrated early and not connected to any outside group.”