The Daily News and Post both use the alleged JFK Airport terror plot - that would have involved blowing up the airport's fuel oil pipeline - to move papers: The cover of the Daily News teases an interview with a waitress who served an "alleged mastermind" (cover headline: "Evil Ate at Table Eight") while the Post wonders about the whereabouts of one of the alleged plotters (headline: "Invisible Man"). The story doesn't crack the NY Times' front page, though the Times' big story is how the plot was "less than mature" based on the criminal complaint. In fact, apparently two of the plotters were ambivalent, and the retired JFK worker allegedly involved, Russell Defreitas "appeared to possess little money, uncertain training and no known background in planning a terror attack," although he did dream of "of inflicting massive harm."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who said of the plot, "Once again, terrorists have plotted against New York. A disaster had been averted," appeared on CBS's Face the Nation. Here's an excerpt of his exchange with Bob Schieffer:
SCHIEFFER: Well, do you believe they had any connection to al-Qaeda, or was this just some sort of homegrown group?
Mr. KELLY: Well, al-Qaeda is a philosophy now. They were reaching out to a militant group in Trinidad, they were looking to get money from this group. So we see no direct connection to core al-Qaeda, but clearly, as I say, it's a movement, it's a--it's a philosophy, and they're motivated by the same hatred that motivates al-Qaeda.
SCHIEFFER: Well, I guess the question that I would have, Mr. Commissioner, is was this just a group of sort of malcontents, weirdos who had some fantasy or were they really close to pulling off something very dangerous?
Mr. KELLY: Well, when you say close, it's difficult to say. You're not certain what it's going to morph into. But what they did do is visit Kennedy Airport on several occasions, take films of the airport. This one individual, Russell Defreitas, had in-depth knowledge of the airport. They made trips back and forth to Guyana and to Trinidad. They were meeting with people, discussing a plot. So it was a lot of manifestation of their intention to commit a terrorist act. Did they have explosives in their possession? No. But clearly there were explosives available in Guyana. And as I say, we don't know exactly what this case could have changed into, could have morphed into if they were able to successfully create a partnership with this militant group.
A full transcript (PDF) is here. Senator Charles Schumer points out this is why the federal government needs to allocate more anti-terror dollars to NYC: “This group was committed, determined and full of hate. We face a more difficult challenge now. We have to expand our awareness that there is a new type of terror.”
The Daily News looks at how much an attack on JFK International would cost us economically. And the informant who helped the feds? A drug dealer. But we can't blame residents living near the pipeline for being freaked out.
A marker indicating the route of the jet fuel pipeline supplying JFK airport sits near 157 Ave. and 99th St. in the residential neighborhood of Howard Beach, Queens; photograph by Rick Maiman/AP