A federal jury on Monday convicted [FBI press release] four men for planting explosive devices outside New York City synagogues and plotting to shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base in New York. James Cromitie [NYT profile] and three co-defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to kill officers and employees of the US, and other related charges [criminal complaint, PDF] for their participation in a terror plot sting by the FBI [official website]. Defense counsel had argued the defendants were entrapped by the FBI [AP report], which paid Pakistani immigrant Shahed Hussain to act as an undercover informant and encouraged the men to carry through with the plot. The defendants were arrested [NYT report] in May 2009 after they planted fake bombs, supplied by the FBI, outside of a synagogue and Jewish community center in the Bronx. US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bahara said the convictions made the US safer:
Homegrown terrorism is a serious threat, and today's convictions affirm our commitment to do everything we can to protect against it. The defendants in this case agreed to plant bombs and use missiles they thought were very real weapons of terrorism. We are safer today as a result of these convictions.Sentencing has been scheduled for March 24 and all four men face a maximum sentence of life in prison. Attorneys for the defendants say they will appeal the convictions.
The case highlighted the continuing threats by homegrown domestic terrorism [JURIST news archive] in the US. In May, lawmakers introduced a bill [JURIST report] that, if passed, would strip US citizenship rights from those suspected of engaging in terrorism. In March, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) proposed a law [JURIST report] that would require terror suspects to be stripped of their Miranda rights and to face military interrogation and trial. Amos Guiora of the University of Utah College of Law criticized the proposed legislation [JURIST op-ed], claiming its impact "would be a fundamental miscarriage of justice."