Ex - Convicts Admit Planning Terror Attack
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- Levar Haley Washington was finally free on parole after years in prison for robbery -- but unbeknownst to authorities, the Muslim convert was already plotting more serious crimes.
Washington was determined to help his religious mentor and fellow convict Kevin James plan jihad-style attacks on military sites, synagogues and other targets, prosecutors said. James, who was still in prison, instructed Washington to recruit five men, obtain two pistols with silencers and make sure one of the men was trained in bomb-making.
''Be careful (brother), there are agents everywhere looking for (Al-Qaida) recruiters or any other threat to national security,'' James wrote to Washington in 2005. ''Your squad will be engaged on all levels.''
...''Homegrown terrorism remains a grave concern to the security of our country, and this cell was closer to going operational at the time than anyone since 9/11,'' Los Angeles Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing told reporters at a news conference after the two men entered their pleas.
Police uncovered the plot in July 2005 while investigating the gas station robberies, which they say were committed to finance the attacks. Torrance Police Chief John Neu told reporters at the news conference that authorities linked about 10holdups to the effort.
The plotters were within weeks of being able to carry out an attack, Neu said, when they were discovered about two months before the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.
Washington and James said little during their separate hearings, answering U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney's questions with monosyllabic responses. Both men wore goatees and Washington's face was covered in tattoos.
...Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Staples said as a result of the plea agreement James' maximum possible sentence was reduced from 25 years to 20. U.S attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek said prosecutors would recommend an 18-year sentence for James and 25 years for Washington.
Also indicted in the case were Gregory Vernon Patterson and Hammad Riaz Samana. All but Samana, a Pakistani national, are American-born Muslim converts.
...Washington converted to Islam while imprisoned with James, then looked to recruit other members of the group after he was paroled, authorities said. Neu said Patterson and Samana were recruited in part because they had no criminal records and could acquire weapons without suspicion.
James preached that JIS members should target for violent attack any enemies of Islam or ''infidels,'' including the U.S. government and any supporters of Israel, according to court documents.
Prosecutors said James prepared a press release that the men planned to send out after an attack.
''This incident is the first in a series of incidents to come in a plight to defend and propagate traditional Islam in its purity,'' James allegedly wrote. ''We are not extremists, radicals, or terrorists. We are only servants of Allah.''
and from an earlier post:
Washington, Patterson and Samana -- who attended the same Inglewood mosque -- are accused of conducting surveillance of military sites, synagogues, the Israeli Consulate and El Al airline facilities in the region, as well as doing Internet research on Jewish holidays, prosecutors said in 2005.
James preached that JIS members should target for violent attack any enemies of Islam, or ''infidels,'' including the U.S. government and any supporters of Israel, according to court documents.
He also created a document he called the ''JIS Protocol,'' which advocated the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the U.S. that followed Shariah law, or Islamic law.
''Sit back, build and attack!'' prosecutors say James wrote in his document. ''Our obvious targets being the Western forces of the U.S. and their ... society.''