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Trinidad Court Orders US Extradition for Terror Suspects

A judge in Trinidad Monday ordered the extradition of three men wanted in the United States on charges of plotting to blow up fuel pipelines supplying a New York airport. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports U.S. officials say the three were part of an Islamist extremist cell led by a fourth man who is already in U.S. custody.

The judge in Trinidad rejected a defense motion that sought to challenge the extradition of the men - Trinidad native Kareem Ibrahim, and Abdul Kadir and Abdel Nur, who are from Guyana. The judge said the three will be held in custody in the Caribbean nation until they are turned over to U.S. officials for trial on conspiracy charges.

U.S. prosecutors have accused the three of conspiring to cause death, serious injury and extensive damage at New York's John F. Kennedy airport.

Lawyers for the men have rejected the allegations, and say their clients are the targets of entrapment.

U.S. officials already have a fourth suspect in custody, Guyana-born Russell Defreitas, who had worked as a cargo handler at the New York airport.

The court decision marks a minor victory for U.S. prosecutors in their efforts to try the three foreign-born suspects.

Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, says prosecutors will face additional challenges, however, in proving their case in a U.S. courtroom.

"The legal cases under traditional corpus of law have not been effectively used by the [Bush] administration against these people," said Birns. "They just have not been found guilty."

Birns says that U.S. officials may have moved too quickly in the Trinidad case, because there is no evidence that the alleged plotters had acquired explosives or taken other steps to carry out the attacks.

U.S. officials say will seek to disrupt any terrorist threat against the nation when it is detected.