Today, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction and life sentence of Kareem Ibrahim (EE’-bruh-heem), aka Amir Kareem, a 68-year-old Trinidadian imam, for his role in the (failed) conspiracy to firebomb John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), along with his co-conspirators and co-defendants, Abdul Kadir, Russell Defreitas, and Abdel Nur.

JFK Airport

JFK Airport | Photo Credit: mgrenner57 via Compfight cc

After his arrest in 2007, conviction in 2011, and sentence in 2012, Ibrahim appealed his case on several grounds, according to the court: “(1) that his testimony was improperly limited, (2) that evidence seized from his Kadir’s home was improperly admitted, (3) that the testimony of Dr. Matthew Levitt, a terrorism expert, was improperly admitted, (4) that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his conviction, (5) that his life sentence is procedurally and substantively unreasonable, and (6) that the district court erred in empaneling an anonymous jury.”

Ibrahim was sentenced to life imprisonment on Count One, which charged him with conspiracy to bomb a public transportation system, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2332f(a)(2), (b)(1)(D), (b)(1)(E), (b)(2)(A), (b)(2)(C), and (c), and to concurrent 20-year sentences on Counts Two through Five. Count Two charged Ibrahim with conspiracy to destroy a building by fire or explosive, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(i) and (n); Count Three with conspiracy to attack aircraft and aircraft material, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 32(a)(8); Count Four with conspiracy to destroy international airport facilities, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 37(a), (b)(1), and (b)(2); and Count Five with conspiracy to attack a mass transportation facility, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1992(a)(10), (c)(1), and (c)(2).

According to court records, Ibrahim joined the conspiracy plot in 2007 when two men (one being a FBI confidential information aka a “CI”) visited his home in Trinidad and told him of the plan. Believing it might work, he directed them to allow him to contact is connections in Iran to further the plot. He further assisted with the plot by giving advice on how to evade American law enforcement and organized a meeting with overseas associates to further the plot. This evidence and other issues were presented in the jury trial, including hours of recorded video and audio evidence.

While Ibrahim admitted he was involved, his affirmative defense was that he only did so out of fear for his own safety, as he hoped the plot would “just…fizzle out.” Nevertheless, the jury did not accept this defense and found that Ibrahim did knowingly and intentionally join the conspiracy, and the 2nd Circuit affirmed that there was “ample evidence” for a conviction of conspiring to “explode pipelines and jet-fuel tanks at JFK Airport in order to kill countless Americans and other travelers, disrupt air travel, and harm the American economy.”

Not only did the district court find that these crimes “easily just[y] life sentences,”  the sentencing enhancements granted at sentencing were, according to the 2nd Circuit, properly given due to Ibrahim’s perjurious testimony being “so brazen and so abundant that it was almost difficult to know where to start.”

A further appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States is possible, but I do not see any substantial issue at hand that would warrant the SCOTUS taking the case.