LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Three men charged in a terror investigation were planning shooting rampages at Los Angeles-area military sites to retaliate for what they called the oppression of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to court documents.
The men were indicted last month on federal charges of conspiring to wage war against the U.S. government through terrorism. All three — Levar H. Washington, 25, Gregory V. Patterson, 21, and Hammad R. Samana, 21 — have pleaded not guilty.
Appearing in Los Angeles Thursday, FBI Director Robert Mueller praised local police agencies that uncovered the alleged plot in July while investigating a string of gas station robberies.
“Terrorist threats against the city and county of Los Angeles … were prevented,” Mueller said.
According to an FBI affidavit unsealed recently, Washington told authorities he was the leader of a “council” of Muslims who planned to carry out operations in Southern California as part of a jihad, or holy war, against the United States.
The suspects allegedly targeted military recruitment centers in Southern California, estimating that 10 attacks could kill as many as 40 people, the affidavit said….
All accepted the possibility of dying in an attack, with Patterson believing “the ultimate goal is to die for Allah in jihad,” according to the affidavit.
Prosecutors contend the men were working at the behest of Kevin James, a California State Prison, Sacramento, inmate who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS. Washington converted to Islam while imprisoned there for a previous robbery conviction.