Good afternoon. I am joined today by FBI Director Robert Mueller and John Richter, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division.
This summer, Americans watched so-called “home grown” terrorists unleash multiple bombings in the city of London. Some in this country may have mistakenly believed that it could not happen here.
Today we have chilling evidence that it is possible.
But thanks to the work of able investigators and our strong partnerships among state, local, and federal law enforcement, we are here to announce the indictment of four men in an alleged conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in the Los Angeles area. Had these four defendants succeeded in their alleged plots, their attacks would have taken an untold number of Americans.
The conspiracy, alleged in the indictment returned by a Santa Ana, California grand jury, extends from the cells of a state prison in Northern California to the communities of Southern California.
Three U.S. citizens and one legal permanent U.S. resident originally from Pakistan are charged with seditious conspiracy. Their alleged objective was to attack U.S. military facilities, an Israeli consulate building, and several Jewish synagogues in the Los Angeles area.
The indictment also charges that the defendants were planning to finance their conspiracy using the proceeds from a violent crime spree.
The six-count indictment alleges that:
The indictment specifically alleges that Kevin James, an inmate in California State Prison-Sacramento, recruited fellow prison inmates to join JIS, a radical Islamic organization.
Kevin James allegedly preached that it was a duty of JIS members to kill “infidels”—perceived enemies of Islam. James’ definition of the enemies of Islam included U.S. government personnel, supporters of Israel, and Jewish Americans.
To achieve his extremist goals, James allegedly sought to establish “cells” of JIS members outside of prison to carry out the violent attacks.
According to the indictment, defendant Levar Washington was recruited into JIS while in prison. Kevin James then directed Washington to recruit five people after his release from prison in December 2004 and train them for covert operations. James further ordered Washington to acquire firearms with silencers and to contact explosives experts so they could make or learn to make bombs that could be activated from a distance.
In the months that followed, it is alleged that defendants Washington, Gregory Patterson and Hammad Samana targeted and conducted Internet research on, and surveillance of, U.S. military facilities in the Los Angeles area—specifically, recruitment centers and military bases.
In addition to the U.S. military targets, it is alleged that the co-conspirators specifically listed for attack Israeli and Jewish facilities in the Los Angeles area—including the Israeli Consulate, El Al and various synagogues. Members of the conspiracy conducted surveillance on several of the synagogues, researching and planning to attack the synagogues on Jewish religious holidays, in order to maximize the number of casualties.
According to the indictment, the defendants purchased weapons in furtherance of their terrorist conspiracy and sought to finance their terrorist plans by robbing gas stations.
Specifically, the indictment charges that beginning May 30, 2005, the defendants—armed with shotguns—did rob or attempted to rob gas stations 11 separate times in cities and towns across Southern California.
They also engaged in firearms and physical training, in preparation for their terrorist attacks.
If convicted of all charges, each of the defendants faces life in prison. Each of these defendants, however, is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
I want to commend the men and women of law enforcement. Thanks to the communication and coordination of law enforcement at every level, we were able to connect the dots and make these arrests before any American lives were lost.
I’d like to thank the FBI and the state and local law enforcement members of the Long Beach Joint Terrorism Task Force for their efforts in this investigation.
As our men and women in uniform fight beyond our shores to protect America and bring freedom and democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan, it is up to us to defend our military men and women and our fellow citizens here at home.