N.Y. Synagogue Hosts Diverse Meeting After Bomb Threat

May 22, 2009

Author: Shawn Cohen

Source: USA Today


Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders this morning gathered to denounce religious hatred and express solidarity two days after a Riverdale terrorist plot was foiled.

They spoke in a joint news conference at the Riverdale Jewish Center, one of two sites targeted by four men who had allegedly planned to detonate bombs outside synagogues.

The interfaith gathering aimed to send the message that "religious and ethnic bigotry cannot be tolerated," said Ari Hoffmung, chairman of the Riverdale Jewish Community Council.

"When one house of worship is targeted, all houses of worship are targeted," Hoffmung said. "God bless the NYPD, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security for all the work they do on our behalf."

Federal officials were aware of the plans for about a year and arrested the men on Wednesday night.

The four men were charged yesterday with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles. The men, James Cromitie, Onta Williams, David Williams and Laguerre Payen, all of Newburgh, N.Y., were American citizens who had converted to Islam while in jail.

"We are here to condemn this act of terrorism because the act does not have anything to do with Islam. Islam is based on peace, tolerance, brotherhood and love," said Imam Konate Souleimane, of a mosque in Harlem, who was among three Muslim religious leaders who spoke out against the terrorist plot.