FOUR Muslim radicals, including a former MP from Guyana, allegedly masterminded a chilling plot to blow up New York's John F. Kennedy airport.
Thousands would have been killed and the US economy crippled.
The alleged Islamic militant plot -- which sought support from Caribbean extremist group Jamaat Al Muslimeen -- was in the early planning stages and foiled before it could be carried out.
Authorities said there was no immediate danger to air safety or the public.
However, had the terror cell gone ahead, they would have caused ''unfathomable damage, death and destruction,'' US Attorney Roslynn R. Mauskopf said yesterday.
In the indictment charging the four men, retired JFK airport cargo handler Russell Defreitas was recorded by the FBI saying: ''even the Twin Towers can't touch it'', a reference to the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attack on New York's World Trade Centre.
In another secretly taped recording, Defreitas, 63, said: ''Any time you hit Kennedy it is the most hurtful thing to the US. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow. They love John F. Kennedy like he's the man. If you hit that, this whole country will be in mourning. It's like you can kill the man twice.''
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the foiled plot showed terrorists once again had New York in their ''cross-hairs''.
FBI assistant director of the New York office, Mark Mershon said there was no indication of any connection to al-Qaeda.
One unnamed official said they were ''al-Qaeda wannabes''.
JFK is the city's main international airport, handling more than 1000 flights a day.
The FBI, police and US counter-terrorism authorities disrupted the terror cell after an 18-month covert investigation. The plot was uncovered in January 2006 when the planners attempted to recruit a person who was a law enforcement informant.
The four men were charged with conspiring to attack JFK airport, by blowing up jet fuel supply tanks and the network of fuel pipelines. The pipeline, which runs through several residential suburbs, takes fuel from a facility in Linden, New Jersey to the JFK airport. The fuel line also services New York's La Guardia airport and the Newark Liberty international airport.
One of the four men, Abdel Nur, from Guyana, is on the run, possibly in Trinidad.
Defreitas was born in Guyana but is a US citizen. As a retired cargo handler, he allegedly used his inner knowledge to identify targets, escape routes and airport security, as well as using satellite images of the airport in planning the attack.
Defreitas was charged on Saturday and remains on bail pending a hearing on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Knox told the court: ''He is the self-proclaimed brainchild of an elaborate plot to blow up JFK airport.''
Two men are in custody in Trinidad -- Abdul Kadir, a former Guyana MP and a former local Mayor who is also reportedly an imam, and Kareem Ibrahim, from Trinidad. They will be extradited to the US.
If convicted they face a life sentence.
The plan was to blow up dozens of fuel silos at New York's John F Kennedy Airport. The blast would have set off a chain reaction of explosions along a jet fuel artery that runs beneath several residential neighbourhoods in Queens. The airport would have been destroyed and several thousand people killed.
RUSSELL DEFREITAS (right)
A 63-year-old U. S. citizen originally from Guyana. He devised the plan while working as an air cargo employee at JFK Airport.
ABDUL KADIR (left)
A former Opposition MP in the Guyanan Parliament.
KAREEM IBRAHIM Lived in Trinidad
ABDEL NUR Lived in Guyana but is being hunted in Trinidad
'Even the Twin Towers can't touch it. It would put the whole country in mourning'
- suspected bomber Russell Defreitas
'The devastation that would be caused had this plot succeeded is just unthinkable'