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- 11-21-2012, 08:33 AM #1
Upland Terror Plot Suspect Had Been "Good Kid" Who Transformed One of four accused of
Upland Terror Plot Suspect Had Been "Good Kid" Who Transformed
By Jacob Rascon and Melissa Pamer
| Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012
One of four accused of planning to kill Americans abroad, Miguel Santana was once a devoted Catholic, friends said
This provided photo taken Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, by Jenny Collins from her neighbor's window shows law enforcement and FBI agents during a raid at the home of 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales in Upland. Santana was one of four Southern California men charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The FBI did not release a photo of Santana.
One of three Southern California men accused of planning to join a mentor in Afghanistan to commit "violent jihad" had undergone a major transformation in the past two years, two people who knew him said.
Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 21, of Upland, had been a religious Catholic before turning to extremist Islamic views, according to a friend and a neighbor.
Along with Ralph Deleon, 23, of Ontario, and 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside, Santana is accused of plotting to join the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan. The three men – who were arrested in Chino Friday – were under the guidance of 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona, who was being detained in Afghanistan.
A complaint and affidavit that details the four men's plans – allegedly to target American soldiers and government facilities abroad – was unsealed late Monday. FBI officials discussed the case Tuesday.
Santana, who was born in Mexico and had a pending U.S. citizenship application, said that he had always looked for violence and sought to fit in with groups, according to the affidavit.
Santana allegedly said he hoped Islam would let him "fit in and actually be able to fight for something that's right."
A man who described himself as a friend of Santana's but did not want to be identified said that Santana had changed.
"He was a really good kid. He was like a brother to me," said the man, who had gone to Upland High School with Santana.
The friend said that Santana had in the past two years begun going to mosque three times per day and discussing extremist ideas. The friend said Santana had tried to convert him to Islam.
"I feel like maybe he started turning to the Muslim religion because those guys who were converting him were there for him," the friend said. "So he felt like 'Oh, well, these are my brothers,' when in reality they were just brainwashing him."
Another woman, Morgan Ivara, who identified herself as a friend also said Santana had begun to act differently within the past year or so.
"He'd say something about God and it would be awful," Ivara said.
He had been a "hard-core Catholic" previously, she said. He began to post "weird stuff" on Facebook, she said. Ivara stopped talking to Santana six months ago, she said.
Santana's apartment in Upland was raided by FBI agents Friday, according to nearby residents.
If convicted on all counts, he faces 15 years in prison.
Upland Terror Plot Suspect Had Been "Good Kid" Who Transformed | NBC Southern California
Last edited by HAPPY2BME; 11-21-2012 at 11:22 AM.
- 11-21-2012, 08:43 AM #2
Sohiel Omar Kabir, Ralph Deleon, Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, Arifeen David Gojali Charged for Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorism
RIVERSIDE COUNTY — Four men have been charged for their roles in a plot to provide material support to terrorists by making arrangements to join al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to kill, among others, American targets, announced André Birotte, Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles, and Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, the defendants conspired to provide material support to terrorists in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2339A, knowing or intending that such support was to be used in preparation for or in carrying out:
conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons and damage property in a foreign country, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 956;
killing and attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1114;
killing nationals of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332(b);
conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332a(b);
and bombing places of public use and government facilities, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332f.
The defendants, listed below, are also known by alias identities listed in the criminal complaint.
Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, a former resident of Pomona and naturalized United States citizen, born in Afghanistan
Ralph Deleon, 23, of Ontario, a lawful permanent resident alien, born in the Philippines
Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales (further described herein and in the criminal complaint as “Santana”), 21, of Upland, a lawful permanent resident, born in Mexico and whose application for citizenship is pending in the United States
Arifeen David Gojali, 21, of Riverside, a United States citizen
The complaint, which was unsealed today during the defendants’ initial appearance in U.S. District Court, alleges that in 2010, Kabir introduced Deleon and Santana to radical and violent Islamic doctrine and various extremist material, including essays and lectures by now-deceased al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader, Anwar Al-Awlaqi. Kabir traveled overseas in December 2011 and later to Afghanistan in July 2012, where he continued to communicate with Santana and DeLeon to arrange for their travel to join him in Afghanistan, according to the complaint. The complaint alleges that Kabir told Santana and Deleon that he had made contacts with individuals who have connections to terrorist organizations. Kabir further said that he would wait for their arrival before departing to a training location in Afghanistan and that, when they arrived, they would meet “the students” and “the professors.” According to the complaint, the term “students” referred to the Taliban and the term “professors” referred to al Qaeda.
The complaint alleges that Santana and Deleon told a confidential source working for the FBI, identified in the complaint as the “CS,” that they planned to travel to Afghanistan to engage in “violent jihad.” In addition, the defendants described potential targets for violent attacks, including overseas American military personnel and bases, according to the complaint. Evidence in this case demonstrates that the defendants used the word “jihad” to refer to armed combat, according to the complaint.
According to the complaint, the defendants both discussed the plot among themselves and with the confidential source. The various conversations detail the defendants’ plans to travel overseas to attend terrorist training, as well as to kill American soldiers and others. In one discussion with the FBI confidential source, Santana and Deleon discussed their preferred roles in carrying out attacks. For example, Santana stated that he had experience with firearms and that he wanted to become a sniper. Deleon stated he wanted to be on the front lines with a second choice of explosives. Both men also indicated they were willing to kill an enemy.
In September 2012, Deleon and Santana recruited defendant Gojali to join them and to travel overseas to commit violent jihad, as alleged in the complaint. The complaint further alleges that defendants Santana, Deleon, and Gojali made plans to join Kabir in Afghanistan to attend terrorist training, and that they arranged travel logistics, including flight arrangements and required documentation. The complaint details the defendants’ activity in raising funds for their travel to Afghanistan and their discussion of various cover stories and code words they could use to conceal their true intentions when traveling abroad. The complaint further alleges that Santana, Deleon, and Gojali conducted preliminary training in southern California at firearms and paintball facilities to prepare for terrorist training overseas.
Defendants Santana, Deleon, and Gojali were apprehended on Friday without incident by members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and had their initial appearance before a federal magistrate this afternoon in U.S. District Court in Riverside, California. Santana and Deleon were remanded to federal custody and Gojali’s detention hearing was continued to Monday, November 26. Kabir is in custody in Afghanistan.
If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.
This case is a continuing investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in Riverside, California. The Riverside JTTF is comprised of members from the following agencies: Riverside County Sheriff’s Office; Riverside Police Department; San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department; Beaumont Police Department; Ontario Police Department; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI); the United States Attorney’s Office; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.
Sohiel Omar Kabir, Ralph Deleon, Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, Arifeen David Gojali Charged for Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to Terrorism | Hews Media Group-Community News
Last edited by Newmexican; 11-21-2012 at 08:46 AM.
- 11-21-2012, 08:57 AM #3
Four California men who 'planned to join al-Qaeda prepared for jihad against Americans' by training at paintball range charged in 'terror plot'
- Arrested were Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34; Ralph Deleon, 23; Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 21; and Arifeen David Gojali, 21
- Charged in alleged plot to attack Americans overseas
- The four were reportedly influenced by the writings of radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
PUBLISHED: 01:56 EST, 21 November 2012
Three California men excited at the prospect of training in Afghanistan to become terrorists prepared, authorities say, by simulating combat with paintball rifles, wiping their Facebook profiles of any Islamic references and concocting cover stories.
Just two days before they were going to board a plane bound for Istanbul - and then onto Afghanistan - FBI agents thwarted plans that officials said included killing Americans and bombing U.S. military bases overseas.
The arrests last week in the U.S. and of the man said to be the ringleader, 34-year-old American Sohiel Omar Kabir, in Afghanistan was laid out in a 77-page affidavit, which included references to the group's online video conversations and audio recordings.
Busted: Arifeen D. Gojali, left, and Ralph de Leon, right, were arrested for their roles in the alleged terror plot
While authorities don't believe there were any plans for an attack in the U.S., two of the men arrested told a confidential FBI informant they would consider American jihad, according to the court documents unsealed in federal court Monday.
The arrests are the latest in a series of cases where U.S. residents were targeted to become terrorists. Last month, a Minneapolis man was convicted of helping send young men to Somalia to join the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group al-Shabab.
Along with Kabir, Ralph Deleon, Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales and Arifeen David Gojali are facing charges of providing material support to terrorists.
The charges can carry a maximum 15-year prison sentence upon conviction.
Defense attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.
Federal investigators said Kabir met Deleon and Santana at a hookah bar and introduced them to the radical Islamist doctrine of the U.S.-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last year in an American airstrike in Yemen.
Kabir, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.
He spent some time at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., pulling aircraft or vehicle parts from a supply store. He was administratively separated for unknown reasons and was given an honorable discharge, the military said.
'It was a standard enlistment that ended early but not for reasons of misconduct,' said Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.
According to the court documents, Deleon said meeting Kabir was like encountering someone from the camps run by al-Awlaki or Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. raid last year on his compound in Pakistan.
Kabir was 'basically a mujahid walking the streets of LA,' Deleon said, using the term for holy warrior,according to court documents. 'He was just waiting to get his papers. And I met him at the point of his life where he was about to go.'
Authorities wouldn't say how the investigation began, but they tracked Kabir's travels last year and flagged violent extremist messages posted online by Santana. Covert FBI agents had conversations with Santana online where he expressed his support of jihad and desire to join al-Qaida.
'We were on them for quite a while,' said FBI Special Agent David Bowdich.
In video calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists, investigators said. Kabir added they could sleep in mosques or the homes of other jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.
Whispers of terror: The four suspects were reportedly influenced by the writings of U.S.-born radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike last year
Faces of terror: Gojali, left, was reportedly recruited later by DeLeon, right, and Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales
Stateside, Deleon and Santana were eager about the prospects of being terrorists. When asked by the FBI informant if both men had thought about how it would feel to kill someone, Santana responded, 'The more I think about it, the more it excites me.'
The two men also discussed where they could do the most damage. After considering going to Palestine and the Philippines, Santana said he preferred Afghanistan because the military bases there could easily be ambushed.
Santana said he was easily influenced by people growing up and spent time around gangs. He said converting to Islam was a good move for him because he could fit in and 'actually fight for something that's right,' according to court documents.
Santana, 21, was born in Mexico, while Deleon, 23, was born in the Philippines. Both are lawful, permanent U.S. residents.
Jen Collins, who lives two doors down from Santana's apartment in Upland, east of Los Angeles, said at least a dozen FBI agents swarmed his unit early Friday. 'It was like something coming out of the movies or TV,' Collins said.
The apartment was shuttered on Tuesday, but someone inside removed a sign that read 'Don't burn the Qur'an, READ IT!' from a shuttered upstairs window as reporters gathered outside.
Targets: The men were allegedly plotting to fight alongside the Taliban against U.S. troops in Afghanistan
Deleon studied business administration at California State University, San Bernardino, but withdrew in September after first enrolling five years ago, said university spokesman Joe Gutierrez.
Court documents show the men talked about their propensity for violence.
Santana, who claimed he went to Mexico to learn how to shoot different kinds of guns and how to make explosives, wanted to be a sniper. Deleon said he hoped he could be on the front lines or use C-4, an explosive, in an attack.
Gojali, a U.S. citizen, was recruited in late September and he said he would be willing to kill, court documents state.
'I watch videos on the Internet, and I see what they are doing to our brothers and sisters. ... It makes me cry, and it gets like I'm, like, so angered with them,' Gojali said.
Gojali's father, Ghazali Musa, said he hadn't heard from his son for three months when he suddenly showed up at the family house last week and said he was leaving on a long trip with a friend.
Gojali's younger sister said the family learned of his arrest through news reports that left them stunned.
'He's not even remotely close to being violent at all,' the 18-year-old sister told the Associated Press in an interview in front of the family home. 'He's not capable of any of this.'
From left, Mohammad Atia with his father Gamal Atia , and Muhammad Sanusi speak near their home in Pomona 2012, about their neighbor, Sohiel Omar Kabir who was arrested along with three other men
She said Gojali - vulnerable, unemployed and lacking even a high school diploma - had recently become fast friends with Deleon, who was a compelling speaker and popular figure at the mosque the two attended.
'I just think he was lost. I think peer pressure is one of his biggest problems in life, and that's why he's in trouble now,' said the sister, who requested anonymity because she did not want to be associated with the alleged crimes. 'A lot of people are saying he was brainwashed by this guy, and my brother, not being employed, he offered him rides to places, and to him that was a sign of a true friend.'
This past summer, plans to travel to Afghanistan became clearer for the group.
They talked about how they would avoid detection. They talked about opening an Afghan orphanage or possibly posing as cologne salesmen. They finally devised a cover story that they were going to attend Kabir's fictional wedding.
It's unclear whether Kabir actually made contact with Taliban or al-Qaida fighters, but in an August video conversation with Deleon, Kabir was with a shiekh or an imam, the complaint said.
Kabir also had intended to go on a suicide mission earlier this month but got sick, according to the court documents. He indicated he would wait for the group, which included the FBI informant, before staging an attack, according to the affidavit.
Court documents also show the confidential informant had been working with the FBI for more than four years and received more than $250,000 and unspecified immigration benefits. The informant had been previously convicted of trafficking pseudoephedrine.
Before going, Deleon said he was going to leave parents a farewell letter. Asked by the informant if Deleon could lie about his true intentions in the letter, Deleon said, it's OK to lie in war. 'I believe right now ... we are in a state of war,' he said.
Using the informant's debit card, Deleon bought four tickets for a flight from Mexico City to Istanbul scheduled to leave this past Sunday. Had the men made it to Afghanistan, they would have initially joined the Taliban and then graduate to al-Qaida, Bowdich said.
'They saw this as jihad. They saw this as their way to push out the aggressors,' Bowdich said.
Even if he failed in a terrorist training camp, Santana said, he would continue trying.
'If for some weird reason, if I can't handle it, I'm not going to give up,' he said, according to court documents. 'Like, because, this is my strong intention. This is what I desire of doing in this life.'
Read more: Four California men who 'trained for jihad against Americans' at paintball range charged in 'terror plot' | Mail Online
- 11-21-2012, 11:34 AM #4
What most Americans don't realize is that there are already tens of thousands (and soon under Obama's Dream Act many more) of young foreign born men and women already enlisted within the ranks of the U.S. Military.
They are there for the main reason of gaining American citizenship.
While being combat trained to kill enemies of the U.S. Government, are those same men and women at their core, and who are not U.S. citizens truly loyal to their new countries, or do their loyalties really go back to the countries (and militant hatred against America) they were born and raised in and where their world views against America were engrained into them as children and young adults?U.S. Constitution - Article IV, Section 4: GUARANTEES AMERICA FROM INVASION!