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Four in New York bomb plot trial found guilty

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Four men were found guilty on Monday by a federal jury of placing explosives outside New York synagogues last year.

The four, arrested in an FBI sting operation in May 2009, were being tried in Manhattan federal court. They face the possibility of life in prison.

They were arrested as they planted what they thought were explosives in two cars parked outside synagogues in New York City's Bronx borough, U.S. prosecutors said.

Defense attorneys said the men, James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen, were not guilty because they were entrapped in a plan devised by the FBI and orchestrated by a paid confidential informant.

Prosecutors said Cromitie, charged with recruiting the three others, was motivated by anti-Jewish sentiments and wanted to participate in jihad. Defense attorneys argued that he was lured into those beliefs by the government's informant.

Of the eight charges, all four were found guilty of seven.

Two of the defendants -- Onta Williams and Payen -- were found not guilty on one of the lesser charges of attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States.

In addition to planting the explosives, the four intended to shoot down military planes at an Air National Guard base in Newburgh, New York with Stinger surface-to-air missiles, prosecutors said.

The trial opened in late August and jury deliberations began on October 6. The charges included conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Todd Eastham)