By Chris Dolmetsch and Edvard Pettersson
May 21 (Bloomberg) -- The four men arrested last night on allegations they plotted to bomb New York City synagogues and shoot down military planes were homegrown criminals with no connections to global terror groups, officials said today.
The suspects knew each other through “prison -- prison contacts for the most part,” New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a televised press conference in the Bronx.
The main suspect, James Cromitie, 53, has been arrested as many as 27 times in New York City and upstate, and the others all had criminal records, had spent time in prison and had “varying levels of charges” against them, Kelly said.
“If there can be any good news from this terror scare, it’s that this group was relatively unsophisticated, infiltrated early and not connected to another terrorist group,” New York Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The suspects, residents of the upstate city of Newburgh, were apprehended in a sting operation about 9 p.m. yesterday in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. They were seized after planting what they believed to be bombs in cars outside the Riverdale Temple, a Reform synagogue, and the nearby Riverdale Jewish Center, an Orthodox synagogue, Kelly said.
The FBI had rendered inactive the 37-pound bombs, which contained the plastic explosive C4. After Cromitie placed the devices in two cars, officers in a small armored vehicle called a BearCat swept in, blocking the path of the suspects’ sports utility vehicle.
Officers broke the windows and took the men into custody without resistance, Kelly said. The suspects were planning to detonate the bombs with mobile phones later, he said. ...