WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two men who were part of a domestic terrorist cell pleaded guilty this morning to federal terrorism charges, admitting that they conspired to attack United States military operations, "infidels," and Israeli and Jewish facilities in the Los Angeles area.
The two men - Kevin James , who formed the terror group while in a California state prison, and Levar Washington, who was recruited by James while in state prison and recruited others into the plot - pleaded guilty to conspiring to wage war against the United States .
A third member of the radical Islamic organization which James dubbed Jam'iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS - Gregory Patterson - is expected to plead guilty to the terrorism conspiracy charge on Monday. The fourth member of JIS named in an indictment - Hammad Samana - has been found unfit to stand trial and is currently receiving psychiatric care at a federal prison facility.
"We are keenly aware of the threat posed by home-grown terrorism. As the guilty pleas today demonstrate, we will continue to identify and disrupt extremist cells before they can inflict harm. This case demonstrates how law enforcement cooperation at all levels thwarted a domestic plot that targeted U.S. military facilities as well as Israeli and Jewish facilities in the Los Angeles area," said Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III stated: "This is a case in which a terrorist cell grew out of a prison cell. Despite the fact that they had no connection to al-Qaeda leaders, they had adopted their cause. These home-grown terrorists had raised the money, recruited the people, chosen the targets, obtained the weapons and set the date. All they had left to do was to strike. The JIS case is an outstanding example of how the Joint Terrorist Task Force system works. A local crime yielded clues that pointed to terrorism. That information was brought to the JTTF and soon over 300 FBI personnel and police officers were tracking suspects and unraveling the plot. It was the superb partnership between law enforcement agencies that prevented that."
U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien commented: "The prevention of future terrorist attacks is the number one priority of the Justice Department , and the investigation and successful prosecution of the JIS terrorist organization stands out as a landmark case in Southern California. With the defendants considering a series of targets to attack - including U.S. Army personnel, synagogues and others perceived as 'infidels' - this terror plot had reached an advanced level. Because these men were driven by ideological fervor, had a demonstrated ability to obtain weapons, and had planned attacks on identified targets, an untold number of lives may have been saved when this terrorist cell was dismantled."
In plea agreements filed this morning and court proceedings conducted this morning in United States District Court in Santa Ana , James and Washington admitted that they conspired "to levy war against the government of the United States through terrorism, and to oppose by force the authority of the United States government."
FBI Assistant Director in Charge Salvador Hernandez said: "Law enforcement personnel at all levels put forth a tremendous effort to put this case together and the proof of that is evident today. A terrorist attack on the city of Los Angeles , hatched in our midst and on our soil, was thwarted in the advanced planning stage. This case is a perfect example of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in that no single agency could have done this alone."
After forming JIS in 1997 while in state prison, James recruited Washington into the organization in late 2004 while both were prisoners at New Folsom Prison, where James had Washington swear an oath of loyalty and obedience to James and to JIS. After his release from prison several weeks after taking the JIS oath, Washington recruited Patterson and Samana into JIS and had them swear oaths of allegiance and obedience to JIS. After forming this cell, Washington and Patterson conducted about a dozen armed robberies of gas stations to supply money for the group's planned attacks in the Los Angeles area.