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Gov’t entrapment plot exposed

Case against Newburgh 4 falls apart

Published Jun 28, 2010 7:57 PM

Alicia McWilliams outside courthouse: ‘The
government needs to be held accountable.’
Photo: MIddletown Times-Herald-Record

A federal judge in White Plains, N.Y., “indefinitely postponed” the trial of the Newburgh 4 on June 15. The four are charged with plotting to bomb a Bronx synagogue and a Jewish community center and shoot down military planes at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y.

Judge Colleen McMahon angrily criticized prosecutors for covering up an investigator’s report showing the “plot” was the work of a government agent, working for the FBI.

The judge declined a defense motion to dismiss the charges because of the entrapment scheme. But, she asked, “Did the government locate some disaffected individuals, manufacture a phony terrorist plot that the individuals would (and could) never have dreamed up or carried out on their own, and then wrongfully induce them to participate in it?”

Six days later, on June 21, Judge McMahon said she would announce a decision on bail for the four by the end of the week. Prosecutors argued against bail, claiming the four are “a danger to the community.”

The defense team noted the presence in court of FBI agent Robert Fuller, who ran the sting operation. He also directed the successful sting of the Fort Dix 5 in 2008. His presence was interpreted as a message to the judge. Supporters of the defendants also sent a message. There was a large delegation in the courtroom, while outside others held three banners denouncing the entrapment, calling for freedom for the Newburgh 4 and an end to the wave of anti-Muslim hysteria.

The four defendants — James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen — face life in prison.

“Let’s get this straight,” wrote Bruce Ticker of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. “These four suspects never possessed the resources necessary to execute such a plot until they partnered with a conspicuous FBI informant, and the FBI made certain to supply them with a harmless arsenal of bombs and a missile launcher. In other words, the Riverdale Jewish Center and Riverdale Temple were never endangered.” (Riverdale Press, June 04, 2009)

Alicia McWilliams, the aunt of defendant David Williams, told Workers World she has dedicated the past 13 months to winning justice for the four. She contacted Nada Khader of the Westchester Peace Action Council (WESPAC), who connected her with a network of local, statewide and national groups and institutions, including Project SALAM in Albany and Mauri’ Saalakhan of the Peace and Justice Foundation. Representatives of both groups, as well as WESPAC, were in court on June 15 and again for the bail hearing on June 21, along with supporters from Newburgh, Westchester County and the Bronx organized by Anne Gibbons and Ivan Braun and Pastor Doug Cunningham of the New Day United Methodist Church.

Nada Khader of WESPAC is leading a workshop this week at the U.S. Social Forum on the subject of Arab and African-American relations. The Newburgh case has emerged as a battle against a massive government conspiracy to entrap Muslims and other people of color in supposed acts of terrorism. Khader told Workers World that the FBI’s role is meant to sustain an atmosphere of terror and anti-Muslim hysteria, serving to justify the illegal U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Alicia McWilliams told Workers World that she and Anne Gibbons have become a campaign team. On June 1 they went together to Philadelphia to support the Fort Dix 5 — another case of government entrapment of Muslims, in which the defendants were convicted and are serving life-plus-30-years. Their case is on appeal. (See “Voice of the Oppressed” on Facebook.)

McWilliams plans a rally in front of New York’s City Hall on July 15. “It’s my turn,” she said. “I want them to apologize to my family. The government needs to be held accountable for these actions. This is just the beginning.”