Four Los Angeles area men, including a former soldier from the U.S. Air Force, have been charged with plotting to kill Americans in Afghanistan by joining Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
According to the unsealed federal complaint, Ralph Kenneth Deleon, Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidraiales, and Arifeen David Gojali planned to meet with Sohel Omar Kabir who was already in Afghanistan in mid-November. Kabir was arrested in Afghanistan and the other three were picked up by officials in California.
The group face charges of supporting terrorists who conspired to kill, kidnap or harm U.S. officers and other U.S. citizens, as well as bomb public places and government facilities. If convicted, each man can face up to 15 years in prison.
The group, which was led by Kabir, was secretly infiltrated by an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The FBI has recordings of the groups conversations and video chat messages as they planned to train in using guns and explosives against American interests abroad. The FBI alleges that Santana and Deleon had pre-trained at firing ranges and paintball courses in Southern California.
Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan who served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001. He studied the radicalist Islamist doctrine of deceased, U.S.-born Al Qaeda imam, Anwar al-Awalki. He engaged in online discussions about jihad with Deleon and Vidraiales, who had converted to Islam in 2010. The trio made posts about radical Islam and jihad on Facebook and elsewhere online and later recruited Gojali.
Authorities had been monitoring the group’s conversations online and picked up the men before there was any danger to the public. Kabir travelled to Afghanistan in July, after spending six months in Germany, and was making preparations for the arrival of others. According to the court documents, Kabir made Skype calls from Afghanistan where explained how the rest could sleep in mosques and with other jihadists as they made their way to a Taliban training camp.
The would-be jihadists made plans to sell off their belongs so they could pay for travel arrangements and passports.
The group confirmed their plans with a confidential source working for the FBI. The source was a former pseudoephedrine trafficker who was paid more than $250,000 by the federal government and given “immigration benefits”, which weren’t specified in the criminal complaint.
According to CNN’s review of the court documents, Santana told the confidential source said he would like to drive a truck bomb, if he could do it with a big truck. “Just drive it into like the baddest military base,” he said, according to the document. “If I’m gonna do, I’m gonna do that. I’m gonna take out a whole base.”
Four California Men Arrested in Terror Plot
Four California men appeared before a federal judge Monday afternoon for their involvement in an alleged terror plot.
Four Men Arrested in California for Plotting to Join al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan
Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to join al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to kill Americans.According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, the defendants conspired to provide material support to terrorists in preparation for or in carrying out: conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons and damage property in a foreign country; killing and attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States; killing nationals of the United States; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States; and bombing places of public use and government facilities.