Four Southern Californian residents have been accused of joining Al Qaeda and the Taliban in a plot to obtain weapons of mass destruction and kill Americans.
Late Monday, the FBI announced the arrests of four men living in the Inland Empire on charges of terrorism, conspiracy to kill and use a weapon of mass destruction.
Documents unsealed today outline a plot to commit “violent jihad” on behalf of terrorist connections in Afghanistan.
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, knowing or intending that such support was to be used in preparation for or in carrying out:
- conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons and damage property in a foreign country, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 956;
- killing and attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1114;
- killing nationals of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332(b);
- conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332a(b); and
- bombing places of public use and government facilities, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332f.
The defendants, include:
- Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, a former resident of Pomona and naturalized United States citizen, born in Afghanistan.
- Ralph Deleon, 23, of Ontario, a lawful permanent resident alien, born in the Philippines.
- Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales (further described herein and in the criminal complaint as “Santana”), 21, of Upland, a lawful permanent resident, born in Mexico and whose application for citizenship is pending in the United States.
- Arifeen David Gojali, 21, of Riverside, a United States citizen.
If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.
The complaint alleges that in 2010, Kabir introduced Deleon and Santana to radical and violent Islamic doctrine and various extremist material, including essays and lectures by now-deceased Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula leader, Anwar Al-Awlaqi. According to the Department of Justice, Kabir traveled overseas in December 2011 and later to Afghanistan in July 2012, where he continued to communicate with Santana and DeLeon to arrange for their travel to join him in Afghanistan
The complaint alleges that Santana and Deleon told a confidential source working for the FBI, identified in the complaint as the “CS,” that they planned to travel to Afghanistan to engage in “violent jihad.” In addition, the defendants described potential targets for violent attacks, including overseas American military personnel and bases, according to the complaint.
The various conversations detailed in the complaint involved the defendants’ plans to travel overseas to attend terrorist training, as well as to kill American soldiers and others. In one discussion with the FBI confidential source, Santana and Deleon discussed their preferred roles in carrying out attacks. For example, Santana stated that he had experience with firearms and that he wanted to become a sniper, and Deleon stated he wanted to be on the front lines with a second choice of explosives, according to investogators.
According to the Department of Justice, the complaint details the defendants’ activity in raising funds for their travel to Afghanistan and their discussion of various cover stories and code words they could use to conceal their true intentions when traveling abroad. The complaint further alleges that Santana, Deleon, and Gojali conducted preliminary training in southern California at firearms and paintball facilities to prepare for terrorist training overseas.
Santana, Deleon and Gojali were apprehended on Friday without incident by members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Kabir is in custody in Afghanistan.