“According to a 2005 federal indictment, [Kevin Lamar] James directed the plotters from his cell.”
It all started with a mobile phone, dropped at a petrol station robbery in Torrance, California, in July 2005.
“Through the phone we came up with a name, a residence and the location of the suspects,” says Torrance police officer Dave Crespin.
“We arrested the suspects and conducted a search warrant on an apartment in South Los Angeles.”
There had been a string of robberies in the area, mostly with the same MO; a getaway driver and another with a shotgun. But once on the premises detectives realised this was far bigger than a robbery and contacted the FBI.
The apartment, rented by suspects Levar Hanley Washington, a prison parolee, and Gregory Patterson, who had no criminal record, contained a trove of incriminating material that allegedly suggested the hapless robbers aspired to become
Among material used to charge the men and two accomplices was a handwritten document called “Blueprint 2005”, which cited eight tasks, such as obtaining silencers for pistols and bombs that can be activated from a distance. Another document, “Modes of Attack”, listed local targets.
The investigation led to California’s New Folsom Prison and the cell of Kevin Lamar James, where investigators found the draft of a sinister press
Titled “Notoriety Moves”, it outlined violent jihad in Southern California, and was allegedly due to be disseminated after the attacks began.
“This incident is the first in a series of incidents to come in a plight to defend and propagate traditional Islam in its purity,” it read. “Sincere Muslims” were advised to avoid targets, including Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of an Israeli state.
Possible targets included a military recruitment office and National Guard facilities, synagogues, the Israeli consulate, the El Al desk at Los Angeles International Airport, and a mysterious “Campsite of Zion”.
“Their plans were to enter either a recruiting facility or a synagogue and shoot as many people as possible before fleeing,” says US attorney Gregory Staples, who helped to prosecute the case.
Last week James, 30, and Washington, 29, pleaded guilty in a Californian court to conspiring “to wage war against the Government of the United States through terrorism”.
The plot allegedly started with the creation of JIS.
In 103 pages of handwritten text, some of it in Arabic, James set out the JIS protocols for followers. They are advised to demonstrate “obedience to established authority” and to be “esoteric or clandestine” in their activities. They also had a duty to attack infidels, including Israel and the US.
Washington, serving time in Folsom for assault and robbery, was recruited to JIS by James, his cellmate, in 2004.
Patterson was also a convert. According to a 2005 federal indictment, James directed the plotters from his cell. Their plans began to heat up in 2004 after Washington was paroled.
He subsequently recruited Patterson, with whom he attended a LA mosque, and Samana, making them swear allegiance to JIS. Authorities say Washington planned to finance the plot by robbing gas stations. Ten were hit. Samana allegedly researched the Modes of Attack targets.
“At the time of their arrest, it appeared they were on the verge of staging an attack here in Los Angeles,” said Thomas O’Brien, the US Attorney in Los Angeles. “An untold number of lives may have been saved when this terrorist cell was dismantled.”