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JFK Plot: Iran, Crime, Capability

Eli Lake of the NY Sun points out a connection that has received nominal attention:

As New York police and the FBI interview suspects in an alleged plot to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport, one thread the ongoing investigation will explore is why one of the suspects was planning to go to Iran.

The article deserves your full attention and reinforces a number of points raised earlier, in particular Sunni-Shi’a cooperation. With two of Kadir’s children living and studying in Iran, it seems safe to say that the Islamic Republic has more than a passing connection to the plotters.

The money quote from the former head of the FBI’s Iran-Hezbollah unit:

“The fact of the matter is that the Iranians are a bunch of sneaky bastards. They are going to take care of anyone who hurts us. I am not at all surprised that they might have been trying to provide him cover to get out of the region…”

Additionally, the apparent connection to the Islamist group “Jaamat al Muslimeen,” which attempted to overthrow the Trinidad-Tobago government in 1990, is most interesting. JaM – a Sunni group - is assessed to be a primarily localized group focused primarily on organized criminal activity.

It is a common fallacy that terrorists groups, in particular al-Qaeda, live primarily off the fat of wealthy Islamist benefactors. While there is apparently no shortage of rich supporters of Jihad who are willing to write checks to headquarters elements, crime – everything from computer crime to mortgage fraud - is largely how the rank and file sustains their activities.

Some have been dismissive of the nature and capability of the JFK plot, alluding that it was long on intent but short on capability. We humbly submit that precious few domestic threat actors have managed to blow up a police headquarters and take control of a nation’s political apparatus as JaM has done. Granted, the US is not Trinidad-Tobago, but we underestimate such ambition at our peril.