About the Would-Be Synagogue/Airplane Bombers

I don’t think we’ve written anything about the four men who were arrested in New York while in the act of bombing synagogues–or trying to, anyway, since their “explosives” were dummies sold to them by a federal agent. They also wanted to shoot an airplane out of the sky with a Stinger missile.

The timing of the story is awkward for the Obama administration, especially because the four men are all ex-cons who became radical Muslims while in prison. The incident emphasizes the danger of placing experienced, charismatic terrorist leaders inside the prison system.

As one would expect, the New York Post has taken the lead in reporting on the story:

Authorities say Onta Williams fell in with his three alleged co-conspirators, James Cromitie, 45, David Williams, 28, and 37-year-old Laguerre Payen, at a Newburgh mosque, where they bonded when they discovered they were all ex-cons.

Relatives and friends of the other three men charged in the horrific plot to blow up two Bronx synagogues and shoot down an Air National Guard plane said the men never expressed any interest in terrorism. But they all quickly developed a deep interest in Islam in jail.

Williams’ uncle — who himself once served 10 years on a drug charge — said he was familiar with prison converts to Islam.

“All the ones in the system are fake Muslims,” he said. “Onta was raised in the church, like I was. His mother, his aunt and cousins, they all sang in the choir. He was a Baptist.

“We were against it,” he said of his nephew’s conversion. “The family was all against it.”

These four men obviously came from marginal circumstances, but the relatives who were interviewed by the Post come across as strikingly sensible. One of the men claimed that he became a (would-be) terrorist because his parents had lived in Afghanistan and he was outraged by America’s military action there. That turned out to be a fable:

According to a criminal complaint, Cromitie told an FBI informant “that his parents lived in Afghanistan prior to his birth and that, because of his connection to Afghanistan, he was upset about the war there.”

But Adela was shocked by that claim.

“I don’t why he’d say that. We have no ties to the Middle East or anything like that,” she said. “We are from the South, although he has some relatives in Barbados.”

He should have said he turned to terrorism because he was outraged by Muslims being held in orange jump-suits at Guantanamo Bay; he might have gotten a Presidential pardon. Anyway, check out the Post’s reporting, which sheds a very human light on the phenomenon of jailhouse radicalization.

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