I’m not sure if you have been following the story of the Bronx bombing plot that was broken up the other day, but I finally got around to reading up about it, and these four clowns sound like something out of a movie starring William H. Macy:
David Williams, who lately had grown a beard and taken to reading the Koran on slow nights at a steakhouse job, was described as particularly violent by prosecutors on Thursday. When the plan to buy guns from a woman in Newburgh fell through, it was David Williams who quickly improvised, arranging to buy a gun from a man he described as a “supreme Blood gang leader” in Brooklyn, Mr. Snyder said. After buying the gun in the company of the informant, David Williams said he would have shot the gang leader if he were alone with him, and kept his $700.
Mr. Payen, described as a nervous, quiet sort who took medication for schizophrenia or a bi-polar disorder, was unemployed and living in squalor in Newburgh. His last arrest, in 2002, was for assault, after he drove around the Rockland County village of Monsey, firing a BB gun out of the window — striking two teens — and snatching two purses. A friend who visited Mr. Payen’s apartment on Thursday said it contained bottles of urine, and raw chicken on the stovetop.
Onta Williams had been addicted to cocaine since he was a teenager, according to his lawyer, Sol Lesser, at his sentencing in 2003. Mr. Cromitie has spent 12 years in prison, most recently for selling drugs to undercover officers behind a school.
If you read the story, it becomes pretty obvious that we are dealing with a bunch of degenerate losers, people of lower than average intelligence with substance abuse issues and long rap sheets and other issues related to their mental stability. Probably not very nice people, but definitely not supervillains. Enter the informant:
Salahuddin Mustafa Muhammad, the imam at the mosque where the authorities say the confidential informant first encountered the men, said none of the men were active in the mosque. An assistant imam, Hamin Rashada, said Mr. Cromitie and Mr. Payen occasionally attended services.***
The stranger’s behavior aroused the imam’s suspicions. He invited other worshipers to meals, and spoke of violence and jihad, so the imam said he steered clear of him.
“There was just something fishy about him,” Mr. Muhammad said. Members “believed he was a government agent.”
Mr. Muhammad said members of his congregation told him the man he believed was the informant offered at least one of them a substantial amount of money to join his “team.”
The informant met Mr. Cromitie, and it quickly appeared that Mr. Cromitie was of a like mind with the apparent radical before him, according to the complaint. Mr. Cromitie said his parents had lived in Afghanistan before he was born and that he was angry at the killing of Muslims there.***
Beginning in October, the informant began meeting Mr. Cromitie at a home in Newburgh that was wired with hidden cameras and microphones, the criminal complaint said. David Williams, Onta Williams and Mr. Payen attended these meetings, and the group discussed Mr. Cromitie’s desire to strike a synagogue in the Bronx and military aircraft at the Air National Guard base in Newburgh, according to the complaint.
In December, the plan began to take shape in the Newburgh house. On Dec. 5, Mr. Cromitie asked the informant whether he could acquire “rockets” and “devices” for attacks, and the informant said he could provide C-4 plastic explosives to fashion improvised bombs. On Dec. 17, Mr. Cromitie said he wanted to case the air base later that week, and that he would remove his traditional Muslim attire — a white jalabiya and cap — so as not to draw suspicion. David Williams suggested they refer to the synagogues as “joints.”
I’m glad these guys are behind bars, but I find it really hard to believe that any of this would have taken place without the prodding of the informant. There is no chance in hell that a coke addict, a schizo with bottles of urine in his house, and a low-life knuckle-dragger like Cromitie would have managed to get surface to air missiles without the aid and assistance of the FBI. Hell, even getting a handgun was a difficult task for these guys, and any 15 year old in any city in America can get a gun in an hour or two.
I’m really not that impressed with what I have seen in this case so far. Sure, their “plans,” such that they were, sound ominous and would have been horrifying. I just don’t know if they would have come up with the plans on their own, or if they would have ever been able to pull any of it off without the generous assistance of the FBI informant. I need to read more about this, as it may be that the NY Times is just providing some really crappy writing, and they were in fact planning this stuff before the informant came along. As it is, it just seems like they were just a bunch of low-lifes until the informant entered into the equation.