Bomb-Plot Informant Testifies FBI Sent Him to Terrorist Camp in Pakistan

By Chris Dolmetsch
Sep 16, 2010 4:42 PM CT
Thu Sep 16 21:42:46 GMT 2010


The confidential informant at the
center of the case against four men accused of plotting to bomb
New York City synagogues testified that the Federal Bureau of
Investigation sent him to Pakistan in 2008 to attend a terrorist
training camp.

The informant, Shahed Hussain, told a jury in New York
today he went to his native country in December of that year to
meet someone at the camp. He didn’t identify the organization
running the camp or discuss the result of the investigation.

“Are you a terrorist?” defense lawyer Susanne Brody asked
Hussain in cross-examination.

“No ma’am,” he responded.

Hussain was testifying during the second day of cross-
examination by Brody, a lawyer with the federal public
defender’s office
who is representing defendant Onta Williams.

Defense attorneys have argued that their clients are the
victims of entrapment, poor men enticed into the plot with the
promise of cars, cash and food by Hussain.

The lawyers for the men have tried to portray Hussain as a
habitual liar who misled officials on applications for political
asylum, documents relating to his fraud case and statements to
parole officers.

Hussain said he comes from a family that owned businesses
in Pakistan including restaurant chains and a construction-
supply company. One of his cars was a gift from former Pakistan
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in the early 2000s, while she was
in exile in the U.S. and staying in Manhattan, he testified.

Gift From Bhutto

Bhutto, a family friend and neighbor in Karachi, invited
him to the hotel to meet him and gave him $40,000 cash to buy
the car for his son.

The political leader was killed in a suicide bombing at a
rally of her Pakistan People’s Party in Rawalpindi on Dec. 27,
2007.

Hussain said he was a member of the MQM party that
represents people who emigrated from India at the time of
Pakistan’s independence in 1947. He left his native country
under the threat of death after being arrested three times,
twice for a murder he didn’t commit, he said. He was released
when his father bribed a police official, he testified.

The trial of Williams, 34, James Cromitie, 44, David
Williams, 29, and Laguerre Payen, 28, all of Newburgh, New York,
began Aug. 23 before Judge Colleen McMahon in federal court in
Lower Manhattan.

Bombing Plot

The men are accused of plotting to bomb a synagogue and
Jewish community center in the Bronx section of New York City
and fire heat-seeking missiles at military planes at Stewart
International Airport in Newburgh.

The charges include conspiracy and attempted use of weapons
of mass destruction in the U.S. They face as long as life in
prison if convicted of the most serious charges.

Hussain testified that he left Pakistan with his wife and
children with less than $2,000, using fake British passports to
go to Moscow and Mexico before entering the U.S. in 1994 through
El Paso, Texas.

He made his way to Albany, New York, where he began working
at a service station while applying for political asylum, he
said. He later bought a station next to a state Department of
Motor Vehicles office. He went to work for the department as a
translator.

In January 2003 he was arrested in an FBI sting after a
friend offered him $1,000 to help obtain an illegal driver’s
license.

Guilty Plea

Hussain pleaded guilty to one count of attempted unlawful
transfer of an identification document in April 2003 and was
sentenced to five years’ probation, he testified. He agreed to
work as an informant with federal prosecutors in Albany, helping
on about 21 cases including money laundering and credit card
fraud, and his probation was later ended, he said.

Hussain said he posed as a member of the Pakistan-based
terrorist group Jaishe-e-Mohammad who needed to launder money
from weapons sales. The FBI sting in 2004 led to prison
sentences for a pizzeria owner and the imam of a mosque in
Albany, he testified.

In 2007, he began working with the FBI in White Plains, New
York. He said. It sent him to mosques to pose as a wealthy
businessman, he said.

At a mosque in Newburgh, he met one of the defendants,
Cromitie, in June 2008, he testified. Three months later, the
FBI sent him to the training camp in Pakistan, he said. Next he
went to mosques in England seeking “people who were expressing
radical ideas,” he said.

Back to U.S.

He returned to the U.S. in February 2009 and resumed
working on the Cromitie case, which culminated in the arrest of
the four men in a coordinated FBI sting outside the Bronx
synagogue on May 20, 2009.

Hussain’s father died in 2003 and his mother in 1998, he
testified. He said he has received about $500,000 from a family
trust fund since 1996, including more than $200,000 in 2003 to
pay debts relating to a bankruptcy that year.

The case is U.S. v. Cromitie, 09-cr-00558, U.S. District
Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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