Four men convicted in a plot to attack a N.Y. synagogue and shoot missiles at military planes "readily agreed to participate in a spectacular terrorist attack," federal prosecutors argued in a sentencing memo filed Wednesday. The memo recommended that James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and LaGuerre Payen all receive life in prison at sentencing.
The defendants, also known as the "Bronx Four," were arrested in May 2009 after they conspired to use what they thought were live weapons against a N.Y. synagogue and U.S. military planes at New York Air National Guard Base in Newburgh. An FBI informant, whom the defendants believed to be a member of the Pakistani terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), provided them with inoperable missiles and bombs.
In October 2010, all four defendants were convicted for attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, attempting to use anti-aircraft missiles and conspiracy to kill U.S. military personnel. Cromitie and David Williams were additionally convicted on one count of attempting to kill U.S. officers and employees.
Prosecutors hope to apply a terrorism enhancement at sentencing.
The memo states that the defendants "intended" to cause injury to the U.S. "This is not a close call," it said. "They engaged in a plot to fire missiles at U.S. military airplanes, which involved, among other things, their surveillance of those targets… and selection of a precise location from which to fire those weapons." Prosecutors also argued that the defendants intended to aid JeM, a U.S. designated foreign terrorist organization.
The U.S. also wants to use Cromitie's statements regarding Jews to apply a hate crime enhancement. Regarding the synagogue attack, Cromitie told the FBI informant, "I don't give a f- if a bunch of Jews are in there," "Jews are the most wickedest people that Allah has created," and "These f-ing Jews get me sick."
Defense attorneys claim that their clients were entrapped by the FBI agent- who offered them $250,000 to commit the acts. A recent report compiled by New York University's law school also labels the case as entrapment. But as Investigative Project analysis reveals, U.S Judge Colleen McMahon rejected the defense's motion to overturn the jury's verdict based on the entrapment defense in May, upholding the convictions.
In trying to debunk the entrapment argument for sentencing, the government wrote, "Few people in the world would agree to do such horrible things. Not for money. Not for anything."
"This investigation revealed what their rap sheets never could: that these defendants were among the handful of people in the country who would actually agree to join forces with a terrorist."
James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams are set to be sentenced on June 29th. Payen's sentencing has been postponed pending a psychiatric evaluation.