1 September – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – Four men were indicted today by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana for their alleged roles in a terrorist plot to attack U.S. military facilities, Israeli government facilities and Jewish synagogues in the Los Angeles area, the Department of Justice announced today.
The seditious conspiracy charged in the indictment, which also included nearly a dozen gas station robberies intended to raise money for the terrorist operation, was allegedly run by an inmate at California State Prison-Sacramento who founded a radical Islamic organization known as Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS. Recruitment of participants in the conspiracy began in prison, according to the indictment. Upon being released from prison, defendant Levar Washington then allegedly recruited other co-conspirators to plot terrorist acts and commit armed robberies.
The six-count indictment returned today charges the following individuals:
* Kevin James, 29, a U.S. national, who allegedly founded JIS in 1997 while in prison;
* Levar Washington, 25, a U.S. national;
* Gregory Patterson, 21, a U.S. national; and
* Hammad Samana, 21, a lawful permanent U.S. resident originally from Pakistan.
* The indictment charges all four defendants with conspiracy to levy war against the United States government through terrorism and conspiracy to possess and discharge firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence. Washington, Patterson and Samana are charged with conspiracy to kill members of the U.S. government uniformed services and conspiracy to kill foreign officials. Washington and Patterson are further charged with interference with commerce by robbery and using and carrying a firearm in connection with a crime of violence.
* All four defendants are currently in custody on federal, state or local charges.
* “Today’s indictment alleges that these defendants turned their terrorist plans and actions against locations in their own country, targeting American military facilities, religious institutions, and other facilities right here in the United States,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “Thanks to the work of able investigators at all levels of government, any further acts of violence arising from this dangerous conspiracy — a conspiracy which included identification of target locations, procurement of weapons, firearms and physical training, recruitment efforts, and financing operations through armed robberies – were prevented.”
* United States Attorney Debra Wong Yang said: “This case demonstrates the value of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Diligent work by the Torrance Police Department was the first step in uncovering and ultimately disrupting a terrorist plot that had the potential to cause significant bloodshed. The local police reported the results of their initial investigation to the FBI and from there all levels of law enforcement worked together to uncover and disrupt a plot that sought to do significant damage to the United States and her people. We all promise that we will continue to work as hard as we did in this case, and as hard and as long as necessary, to detect and stop any other terrorist plots.”
* Randy Parsons, the Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles stated: “This multi-agency investigation led by the FBI’s JTTF, disrupted the activities of individuals acting on behalf of JIS who were planning and had taken actions in preparation of carrying out attacks on American soil. Had these individuals gone undetected, their plan had the potential to inflict significant casualties within the city and county of Los Angeles. The successful prevention of this attack was the result of a process that worked as it was designed; the type of police work that takes place everyday on our streets by local agencies.”
* LAPD Chief William J. Bratton said: “The indictment announced today is a striking example of how local agencies, working together, maintain a strong, efficient counter-terrorism presence in our region. The LAPD committed over 100 persons from our Counter Terrorism Bureau to assist in this investigation. While laborious and costly, the LAPD is committed to carrying our weight in the partnership and in safeguarding Los Angeles.”
* The indictment alleges that James recruited fellow prison inmates to join JIS and preached the duty of members to target for violent attack any enemies of Islam, or “infidels,” including the U.S. government and Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel. James allegedly distributed a document in prison that justified the killing of “infidels,” and made members take an oath not to talk about the existence of JIS. He also allegedly sought to establish groups or “cells” of JIS members outside of prison to carry out violent attacks against “perceived infidels,” including the U.S. government, the government of Israel and Jewish people.
* Washington, also an inmate at the Sacramento prison, joined JIS in about November 2004, and was paroled at the end of the month, according to the indictment. In December 2004, James allegedly instructed Washington to recruit five people to train in covert operations, acquire firearms with silencers, and find contacts with explosives expertise or learn to make bombs that could be activated from a distance.
* The indictment alleges that beginning in about December 2004, Washington, Patterson and Samana targeted and conducted Internet research on and surveillance of U.S. military facilities – such as recruitment centers and military bases – in the Los Angeles area, as part of their plot to kill U.S. military personnel. In July 2005, Patterson and Samana allegedly used computers to research military targets in the Los Angeles area, while Samana drafted a document listing Israeli and U.S. targets in Los Angeles. In addition to the U.S. military targets, the co-conspirators specifically targeted Israeli and Jewish facilities in the Los Angeles area, including the Israeli Consulate, El Al (the national airline of Israel) and synagogues. They also allegedly engaged in firearms and physical training, in preparation for attacks.
* According to the indictment, the defendants purchased weapons or otherwise tried to acquire weapons in furtherance of their terrorist conspiracy and made efforts to raise money by robbing gas stations. The indictment alleges that 11 times beginning May 30, 2005, the defendants – armed with shotguns – robbed or attempted to rob gas stations in the several cities and towns in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Torrance, Playa Del Ray, Bellflower, Pico Rivera, Walnut, Orange, Playa Vista and Fullerton. The indictment alleges that during the gas station robbery spree, Patterson updated James on the progress of the planned war of terrorism against the U.S. government.
* If convicted of all of the charges, the defendants face life in prison.
* The criminal investigation into the alleged terrorist conspiracy was lead by the FBI’s Long Beach Joint Terrorism Task Force, whose participating agencies include the Los Angeles Police Department; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Torrance Police Department; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; the Long Beach Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Los Angeles Port Police; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
* Substantial assistance during the investigation was provided by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Investigations; the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the California Department of Justice; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations; and the Department of Defense.
* Other agencies providing resources to the investigation include the Federal Air Marshals, the Santa Monica Community College Police, the Beverly Hills Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Army Criminal Investigations Division, the U.S. Army Office of Intelligence, the United States Marshals Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the Los Angeles Airport Police.
* The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office worked collaboratively with federal prosecutors during the investigation.