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US Authorities Arrest 4 Suspects in New York Synagogue Bomb Plot

Authorities in New York have charged four men with plotting to blow up two synagogues in New York City. Police say they also allegedly planned to shoot down a military airplane.

The arrests were the result of a nearly year-long undercover operation by federal, state and New York City authorities.

Officials took the men into custody Wednesday night in the upscale Riverdale section of the Bronx, after the suspects allegedly planted what they thought were bombs in two cars parked outside the synagogues. However, the explosives were fake and had been obtained from an undercover government informant.

The four suspects were identified as group ring leader James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters that all four men had criminal records. He said they did not appear to be part of al-Qaida but were committed to carrying out a deadly attack.

"They stated that they wanted to commit jihad. They were disturbed about what was happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that Muslims were being killed. They made the statement that if Jews were killed in this attack that would be all right."

Three of the suspects are U.S.-born, the fourth is of Haitian descent. They are also accused of trying to obtain surface-to-air missiles to attack military aircraft at an Air National Guard Base North of New York City.

Three of the men are said to be converts to Islam. The police commissioner said they may have converted to an extreme vision of Islam in jail, where it is believed they met.

The four are being arraigned in federal court, where they will each be charged with two counts of conspiracy. If convicted they could face life in prison.