Skip to main content

Closing arguments under way in synagogue bomb plot

From Christina Romano, CNN
  • Prosecution: Alleged ringleader intent on harming America
  • Defense argues that informant isn't credible
  • Defendants are accused of plotting to attack synagogue, community center

New York (CNN) -- Testimony from an informant who recorded their conversations is "garbage," the attorney for one of four men charged with plotting to bomb a synagogue and a Jewish community center told jurors Monday.

Closing arguments in the trial began Monday at a federal court in Manhattan. Prosecutors say James Cromitie and three other men spoke extensively about their plans as Shahed Hussain -- posing as a representative of a Pakistan-based terrorist group -- recorded the discussions.

"The bottom line is when it comes to Hussain's testimony, its worthless. It's garbage," lawyer Vincent Briccetti told the jury. "He lied to you."

Prosecutors argued that Hussain had not lied about how much money he told Cromitie, the alleged ringleader of the group, he would be paid for the attack and denied defense contentions that the men were entrapped.

"The defendants thought this was real -- real bombs, real missiles," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin told the jury. He also said that Cromitie was intent on doing something against America and that the FBI informant never put the idea "to blow things up in Cromitie's head."

Cromitie and the other men -- David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen -- from Newburgh, New York, were arrested May 20, 2009. They are charged with conspiring to blow up the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Community Center in Riverdale. They are also accused of planning to fire surface-to-air-missiles at a New York National Guard facility.

The jury spent six weeks listening to testimony and undercover tapes made by the FBI informant. On the tapes, Cromitie cn be heard telling Hussain: "I am a soldier in America but not for America." He later talked about needing a fatwa, or blessing from an imam.

"I'm gonna do something, with or without it, I need to make some noise," he told Hussain in the fall of 2008, according to testimony. Hussain developed his relationship with Cromitie over months, meeting for coffee and lunches in local restaurants in Newburgh, according to testimony.

Closing arguments are expected to continue Tuesday.