The younger sister of a Southern California man charged with plotting to become a terrorist says the family is shocked by his arrest and her brother is incapable of violence.
The 18-year-old community college student told The Associated Press in an interview outside the family's home Tuesday that her brother, Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside, had been struggling and unemployed when he fell under the influence of another of the four suspects, Ralph Deleon, 23, from Ontario.
The sister, who requested anonymity because she did not want to be associated with the alleged crimes, says her brother was taking classes to get his GED but dropped out after becoming friends with Deleon, who was a popular figure at the mosque the two attended.
The sister says Gojali was "lost" and had a lifelong weakness to peer pressure.
Gojali, Deleon and a third man – Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 21, from Upland – were charged this week with plotting to kill Americans and bomb U.S. military bases overseas. The FBI says they spent months preparing for a trip to Afghanistan where they hoped to join the Taliban and eventually graduate to the ranks of al-Qaida.
They seemed determined to reach their goal — even excited about the prospects of being terrorists — and weren't dissuaded when at least one of them suspected someone might be following them.
The men were unaware that one of their cohorts was an FBI informant who recorded conversations that helped thwart the plot by what authorities called a valid, homegrown extremist network.
Also arrested was Sohiel Omar Kabir, a 34-year-old American from Pomona, who was captured over the weekend in Afghanistan. All four men are facing charges of providing material support to terrorists, which can carry a maximum 15-year prison sentence.