Special Agent in Charge of the Counterterrorism Division in Los Angeles, David Bowdich (left) and Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, Bill Lewis, discuss the Southern California suspects who were arrested on terror charges.
UPDATE 3:15 P.M.: At a news conference this afternoon the FBI said this is a case they take very seriously, one on which they deployed “extraordinary resources.”
Agents said the four men arrested were a valid homegrown terror network. They wanted to hurt U.S. and coalition troops and were carrying out definitive steps to do just that.
The men told an FBI informant they were going to travel to Afghanistan to commit “violent jihad.”
The four had already assigned each other specific roles, such as sniper and explosive expert.
There is still a lot we don’t know about these suspects but the FBI has said that they were extremely multiethnic.
The suspects were Vietnamese, Mexican, Filipino, and Afghani.
They apparently met in a hookah bar and were actve on Facebook.
Three of the suspects were apprehended Friday in Chino.
The other – the ringleader – was taken into custody in Afghanistan.
The FBI said there was no threat locally around this case. These suspects had their targets set overseas.
6:00 A.M: Federal authorities say four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans overseas by joining al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the defendants were arrested for plotting to bomb government facilities and public places. They include a man who served in the U.S. Air Force.
According to a federal complaint unsealed Monday during initial appearances, Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, introduced two other California men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al-Qaida leader.
Kabir, from Pomona, served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001. Authorities said he went to Afghanistan and communicated with the other two: Ralph Deleon, 23, from Ontario; and Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 21, from Upland. They talked about arranging travel to join Kabir and meet with his contacts from terror organizations.
They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali from Riverside.
The complaint states Deleon and Santana told an FBI source of their plans to engage in "violent jihad."
The New York Times reports that authorities allege Kabir told the trio he would arrange meetings with terrorists. The trio planned to sell off belongings to scrape together enough cash to buy plane tickets and make passport arrangements to travel to Afghanistan and Yemen.
Deleon told a confidential FBI source that he wanted to be on the front lines overseas and use C-4 explosives in an attack on the "baddest military base," the newspaper reported. Santana agreed.
The NY Times also reports that Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Santana was born in Mexico, while Deleon was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents. Gojali is a U.S. citizen.
If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.
Read more details about the plot below: