Four Southern California men have been arrested as suspects in an alleged terrorist plot. According to a federal complaint, Sohiel Omar Kabir introduced Ralph Deleon and Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales to “radical and violent Islamic doctrine.”In 2010, Deleon and Santana converted to Islam; more recently, Arifeen David Gojali joined the group.
The men allegedly conspired to kill Americans overseas by joining al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The suspects, who utilized social media to contact one another, confided intent of “violent jihad” online to an undercover FBI agent. Their reported plans included plots to bomb military bases and government agencies abroad. Deleon, Santana, and Gojali had scraped together enough money for airfare to Afghanistan, where they allegedly planned to stay in mosques or in the homes of fellow jihadists.
They were arrested in California and attended a hearing in Riverside on Monday, November 19. Kabir was arrested in Afghanistan. If convicted, the men could serve a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. What role should online conversations play in the investigation and conviction of alleged criminals? What are the best measures to prevent these types of attacks from coming to fruition? Are intelligence stings always effective?
John Asbury, breaking news reporter, The Press-Enterprise
Jessica Garrison, reporter at the Los Angeles Times
Brian Michael Jenkins, senior advisor to the President of the Rand Corporation