Ibrahim and his co-conspirators had planned to explode fuel tanks and the fuel pipeline underneath the airport, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
U.S. District Court Judge Dora Irizarry, who sentenced Ibrahim, hailed the outcome as an example of how American courts and security work.
“This case shows the government at its best in terms of protecting the security of this country,” Irizarry said.
A federal jury convicted Ibrahim of multiple terrorism offenses after a four-week trial that ended last May.
The jury found that the imam had provided operational support to the group planning to attack JFK.
During cross-examination, Ibrahim admitted that he had advised plotters to present their plot to revolutionary leaders in Iran and to use operatives ready to engage in suicide attacks.
Prosecutors said the plot originated with Russell Defreitas, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Guyana. Defreitas, a former cargo handler at JFK, used his knowledge to help plot the attack, the FBI said. He furnished Ibrahim with video surveillance and satellite imagery of the targets because of his connections with militant leaders in Iran.
In a recorded conversation, Ibrahim told Defreitas that attackers must be ready to “fight it out, kill who you could kill and go back to Allah.”
Defreitas recruited Ibrahim to the JFK plot as well as Abdul Kadir, a former member of Guyana’s parliament.
According to trial evidence, the conspirators also attempted to enlist support from al Qaeda leadership and other prominent international terrorist organizations, such as the Trinidadian militant group Jamaat al Muslimeen.
Defreitas and Kadir were convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to life in prison following a nine week trial that wrapped up in 2010.