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Alleged terror plot disrupted by New York officials, FBI

Four men planned attacks against Jewish and military targets, according to authorities.

By Ron SchererStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / May 21, 2009

David Winter, executive director of the Riverdale Jewish Center (r.) comforts Rose Spindler, a member, outside the center in the Bronx on Thursday after an alleged terrorist plot was foiled.

David Goldman/AP

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New York

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and New York City officials have arrested four men who allegedly planned terrorist attacks against Jewish and military targets.

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The arrests, which took place late Wednesday in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, were made after the men were said to have placed FBI-altered bombs outside a synagogue and Jewish community center. The police, using an 18-wheel truck, blocked their getaway and then apprehended the unarmed suspects.

According to news reports, New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly, at a news conference, quoted one of the men as saying, "If Jews were killed in this attack ... that would be all right." A federal complaint states that one of the alleged conspirators said he wanted to do "something to America."

Separately, President Obama, in a major speech Thursday morning on terrorism and Guantánamo, said his most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe. "That is the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It is the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night," he said at the National Archives in Washington.

"We know that Al Qaeda is actively planning to attack us again. We know that this threat will be with us for a long time and that we must use all elements of our power to defeat it," Mr. Obama said.
The FBI apparently was aware of this latest plot for some time, because of the work of a confidential informant. The bureau says it monitored the suspects' actions with wiretaps and video cameras in their homes and provided an inactive missile and inert explosives. At least eight law-enforcement agencies were involved in the case.
The government filed a sealed complaint a day before the arrests.

According to the federal complaint, the four men selected their targets in April and conducted surveillance, including taking photos, of military planes at the Air National Guard base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. The government says that all four men live in Newburgh, a Hudson River community in Orange County.