After eight days of deliberation, a New York jury Monday convicted four men accused of plotting to bomb a synagogue in the Bronx and fire missiles at military planes.
The four defendants — Onta Williams, Laguerre Payen, James Cromitie and David Williams IV — could receive sentences up to life in prison. Williams and Payen were found not guilty of one charge of attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, the New York Times reported.
Much of the case focused on the use of a government informant, Shahed Hussain, who posed as a terrorist and supplied the men with bombs that didn't work and Stinger missile tubes. Defense attorneys said Hussain entrapped the four defendants and cited taped conversations in which Cromitie expressed doubts about the plot.
The use of informants has been criticized by Islamist groups, who accuse the FBI of sending "agent provocateurs" into mosques to instigate conspiracies. Following the arrests of Cromitie and his associates, Dawud Walid, head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Michigan office, told a radio interview that the FBI was "manufacturing their own terrorism suspects to give the appearance that they're actually doing something tangible in the so called 'War on Terrorism.'" The FBI is "cultivating and inciting people towards extremism," he said.
Cromitie, however, also told Hussain that he hated Jews and didn't care how many people were in the Riverdale synagogue when the bombs exploded.
The case was tried in federal district court in Manhattan before a jury of six women and five men.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the convictions "affirm our commitment to do everything we can to protect against" homegrown terrorism. "The defendants in this case agreed to plant bombs and use missiles they thought were very real weapons of terrorism."