New York, terror trial capital of the US

New York's federal courts have seen many major terrorist trials since the early 1990s, several involving Al Qaeda-linked operatives.

1993-94: Trial in first World Trade Center bombing.

On Feb. 26, 1993, an explosive-packed Ryder truck was driven into the garage of the World Trade Center in New York, killing 6 people and injuring more than 1,000. After a six month trial with 204 witnesses and 1,000 pieces of evidence, all four defendants were convicted. Each receives a 240-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole.

1994-95: "Day of Terror" trial.

Twelve defendants, including "Blind Cleric" Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, were tried for a terror plot thwarted by the FBI in June 1993. Followers of Sheikh Rahman planned to bomb prominent sites in New York City, including the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln & Holland Tunnels, the United Nations, and the New York FBI office. Ten defendants were convicted and sentenced to 25 to 85 years in prison. Two pleaded guilty and received life sentences.

1995-96: "Manila Air" plot.

Ramzi Yousef, nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was one of three defendants tried in Manhattan Federal Court in a plot to plant a bomb in a dozen US commercial jetliners timed to go off when they were over the Pacific. Mr. Yousef, Abdul Hakim Murad, and Wali Khan Amin Shah were all convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, with Yousef sentenced to life in prison plus 240 years.

1997: Trial of Ramzi Yousef for his role as mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

1998: East Africa American embassy bombings.

US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were bombed, killing 224 people and injuring more than 4,000. Osama bin Laden and 22 others were indicted for their role in the attacks; four were caught and convicted. Another suspect, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian national, is scheduled to be tried in September 2010.

2002: Millennium bombing plot.

Algerian nationals Mokhtar Haouari, Abdel Ghani Meskini, and Ahmed Ressam were charged in a conspiracy to bomb the Los Angeles airport during the millennium celebrations. Tried in a New York federal court, Mr. Haouari was convicted of conspiring to supply material support to Mr. Ressam's plan to enter the US from Canada and set off a bomb at the L.A. airport. He was sentenced to 24 years. Meskini entered a plea agreement with the Justice department to testify against other suspects in exchange for a lighter sentence. Mr. Ressam testified against Haouari, and was sentenced in 2005 by a Los Angeles court to 22 years in prison.

2004-06: New York subway bomb plot.

James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj, both US citizens, were arrested for plotting to bomb a subway station near Madison Square Garden in New York City before the Republican National Convention. Mr. Siraj was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Mr. Elshafay pleaded guilty and received a five-year sentence for testifying against his co-conspirator.

2007-ongoing: JFK Airport bomb plot.

Four men were arrested in June 2007 over a plot to bomb fuel lines connected to the JFK airport in New York. Abdel Nur and Abdul Kadir of Guyana, cleric Kareem Ibrahim of Trinidad, and Guyana-born US citizen Russell Defreitas allegedly planned to use bombs in order to ignite millions of gallons of jet fuel at the airport. The plot reportedly never went beyond the planning stages. Mr. Defreitas was arrested in Brooklyn. The other three were detained in Trinidad and extradited in June 2008. The men pleaded not guilty to the charges and are awaiting trial.

2009: Oregon terrorist training camp

Lebanese-born Swedish citizen Oussama Kassir was arrested in Prague in 2005 on a warrant filed by US prosecutors for plotting to set up a jihadist training camp in Oregon and operating websites with instructions on how to make bombs. In May 2009, he was found guilty in a New York court of 11 charges, including providing material support to Al Qaeda and distributing information on explosives and weapons of mass destruction, and later sentenced to life in prison.

2009-ongoing: New York synagogue bomb plot

Four men were arrested in the Bronx in May 20, 2009 after allegedly plotting to detonate bombs near a synagogue, and to shoot Stinger surface-to-air missiles at Air National Guard aircraft at Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y. Fake bombs and missiles were provided by a government informant. On June 2, 2009, James Cromitie, Onta Williams, David Williams, and Laguerre Payen were charged in an eight-count indictment, and are awaiting trial.

2010: Denver/NYC bomb plot

Denver resident Najibullah Zazi was arrested on September 20, 2009, on suspicion of associating with Al Qaeda and planning to carry out a terrorist attack in New York. Subsequently, his father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, and his imam Ahmad Wais Afzali were also arrested. Najibullah Zazi is currently in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn awaiting trial.

2010: Fourth suspect in East Africa American embassy bombings

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian national, is scheduled to be tried in September 2010 for his alleged role in the US Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. US Attorney General Eric Holder has issued a letter directing the US attorney's office not to seek the death penalty. Indicted on 286 charges, including conspiring with Al Qaeda, he was captured in Pakistan and detained at Guantánamo Bay. He was transferred in June 2009 to New York to stand trial.

Sources: Anti-Defamation League,,,, Middle East Quarterly, Department of Justice, news and wire reports.

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