Last month, police and FBI arrested four men on charges that they had plotted to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and fire a missile at a military jet. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly held press conferences at the synagogues to reassure New Yorkers about their safety. As details emerged, the Village Voice reports, the less the four defendants sounded like men with the skills to plan a sophisticated terror plot.
They were small-time crooks whose previous activities revolved around smoking marijuana and playing video games. One defendant was arrested in a crack house surrounded by bottles of his own urine; his lawyer describes him as “mildly retarded.” What the indictment didn’t say, and what the initial news reports didn’t fill in, was the extent to which the fifth man in the plot, an unnamed FBI informant, had provided the glue to hold the group, known as the Newburgh 4, together.