NEW YORK -- A government informer and the man charged with leading a foiled plot to bomb New York City targets discussed abducting former President Richard M. Nixon and his former secretary of state and adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, according to lawyers who have seen transcripts of tape-recorded evidence in the case.
The two U.S. leaders were mentioned on the tape as possible targets in a hostage-taking scheme aimed at winning the release of Muslims being held in federal custody in connection with the bombing of the World Trade Center in February, the lawyers said.
In the secretly taped conversation, the informer, Emad Salem, and the suspect, Siddig Ibrahim Siddig Ali, talked about a scheme to kidnap influential Americans that had been suggested to them by El Sayyid A. Nosair, the lawyers said.
Nosair, a Muslim friend who was in prison in upstate New York on charges stemming from the 1990 murder of the Jewish militant leader Rabbi Meir Kahane, was indicted recently on federal charges that he was part of a group that had plotted several terrorist acts, including the trade center explosion, murders and kidnappings.
Mr. Salem and Mr. Siddig Ali had just returned from a visit to Nosair at Attica state prison when the conversation was recorded.
In the May 23 conversation, recorded by the informer, Mr. Salem and Mr. Siddig Ali also discussed removing Mr. Kissinger's clothes, fearing that they might contain a secret homing device that would make it easier for authorities to locate him if he were kidnapped, the lawyers said.
Ronald L. Kuby, a lawyer for Mr. Siddig Ali, declined to comment on the transcripts yesterday, citing a court order barring leaks of evidence. But, he said, "There was no conspiracy to take hostages."
Prosecutors have charged Mr. Siddig Ali, along with 14 other men, including Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric, with plotting a host of terrorist acts, including the foiled bomb plot as well as kidnappings and assassinations of government officials, law-enforcement officials and judges. The indictment did not specify targets of the alleged kidnappings.
The men, the indictment said, conspired "to obstruct justice by, among other things, conspiring to kidnap and to take hostages to attempt to secure the release of imprisoned members of the organization."
At the time of the taped discussions, several men named as unindicted co-conspirators in the plot, were under arrest for the trade center bombing Feb. 26.
Mr. Kissinger, now a consultant on international security affairs, said yesterday that he was unaware of the alleged threat.
Mr. Nixon could not be reached for comment.
The secret recordings form the core of the government's case against the 15 defendants, five of whom were arrested June 24 in a Queens garage, where they were video-taped mixing explosives for what prosecutors said was a series of bombings that were set to begin July 1.
The conspiracy case has expanded to include Sheik Abdel-Rahman, a blind charismatic religious leader. Federal officials say he helped select targets for terrorist acts.