Four charged with plotting terror attacks in L.A

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The imprisoned founder of a radical
Islamic group and his three followers were indicted on
Wednesday for plotting attacks on Los Angeles-area military
facilities and synagogues, the Israeli consulate and El Al
airlines, authorities said.

The four men had purchased firearms with silencers,
investigated making bombs and were ready to carry out attacks
when two of them were caught robbing a gas station to fund the
operation, U.S. Attorney Debra Yang told a news conference in
Los Angeles.

“The evidence in this case indicates that the conspirators
were on the verge of launching their attack,” she said, adding
that the arrest had exposed “a chilling plot based on one man’s
interpretation of Islam.”

She declined to elaborate on the timing or nature of the
attack but said it could have included “shooting up military
facilities” or bombing a synagogue and may have been planned to
coincide with the Jewish holidays in October.

“Had these four defendants succeeded in their alleged
plots, their attacks would have taken an untold number of
Americans,” U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told a
separate news briefing in Washington.

Prosecutors say Kevin James, a 29-year-old gang member from
Los Angeles who was serving time for attempted robbery and
possessing a weapon in prison, had formed the radical
organization Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh at a California
correctional facility in the late 1990s and preached violence
against the United States and Israel.

James distributed to other prisoners a document setting
forth his teachings on Islam, including the justification for
killing nonbelievers, and recruited fellow inmate Levar
Washington in November of 2004, the indictment said.

When Washington, 25, was released from a California prison
a short time later, the indictment charges, he recruited his
roommate Gregory Patterson and a friend, Hammad Samana, both
21, to the cause. The four men allegedly researched possible
targets — including military facilities, synagogues, the
Israeli consulate and El Al airlines.

The men robbed 11 gas stations across Southern California
beginning in May to fund their operation, prosecutors say. When
they were caught after the final robbery, authorities say,
police conducted a search and discovered the list of potential
targets and evidence of the larger plot.

The four men each face life in prison if convicted.