PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad – A fourth suspect in an alleged plot to attack New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport surrendered Tuesday in Trinidad as some U.S. authorities raised concerns that deep social inequality in the Caribbean could make the islands a fertile recruiting ground for radical Islam.
Abdel Nur, a Guyanese national accused of seeking support for the alleged plot from the leader of a radical Muslim group in Trinidad, smiled as he turned himself in at a police station outside the capital Port-of-Spain.
The details emerging about Nur and the other suspected plotters have given rise to concerns plot that bitter social divides in the Caribbean, where many Muslims live in shacks just blocks from gleaming skyscrapers, could foster anti-American sentiment and Islamic extremism.
The 57-year-old Nur worked odd jobs at a currency exchange house and lived in a poor neighborhood back in Guyana.
“It is a conspiracy and a set-up,” he told reporters with a smile as he entered a courthouse later Tuesday.
Nur and three others are alleged to have been planning to blow up fuel pipelines that feed the New York airport. Two of the other suspects are also in custody in Trinidad, following their arrests there on Friday.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke of a potential Caribbean threat when he disclosed the alleged plot.
“This is an area in which we have growing concern and I think requires a lot more focus,” Kelly said.
Though the Caribbean is largely known as a tourist paradise, the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, with a population of about 1.3 million, stands out as an exception: It is the most industrialized nation in the region and the largest supplier of liquid natural gas to the United States. The capital seems to have sprouted skyscrapers in recent years, thanks to the natural gas boom.
Trinidad, which is about 6 percent Muslim, is home to Jamaat al Muslimeen, a radical group that staged the only Islamic revolt in the Western Hemisphere, a deadly 1990 coup attempt sparked by still unresolved land claims.
Nur allegedly met with the group’s leader, Yasin Abu Bakr, in an unsuccessful effort to get support for the airport attack. Abu Bakr told the Associated Press on Monday that his group had no connection the New York plot.