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Feds arrest four Southern Calif. men in terror plots

LOS ANGELES Four Southern California men have been charged with plotting to kill Americans and destroy U.S. targets overseas by joining al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, federal officials said Monday.

The defendants, including a man who served in the U.S. Air Force, were arrested for plotting to bomb military bases and government facilities, and for planning to engage in “violent jihad,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a release.

A federal complaint unsealed Monday says 34-year-old Sohiel Omar Kabir of Pomona introduced two of the other men to the radical Islamist doctrine of Anwar al-Awlaki, a deceased al Qaeda leader. Kabir served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.

The other two — 23-year-old Ralph Deleon of Ontario and 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland — converted to Islam in 2010 and began engaging with Kabir and others online in discussions about jihad, including posting radical content to Facebook and expressing extremist views in comments.

They later recruited 21-year-old Arifeen David Gojali of Riverside.

Authorities allege that in Skype calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists. Kabir added the would-be jihadists could sleep in mosques or the homes of fellow jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.

The trio made plans to depart in mid-November to carry out plots in Afghanistan, primarily, and Yemen, after they sold off belongings to scrape together enough cash to buy plane tickets and made passport arrangements.

In one online conversation, Santana told an FBI undercover agent that he wanted to commit jihad and expressed interest in a jihadist training camp in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The complaint also alleges the men went to a shooting range several times, including a Sept. 10 trip in which Deleon told a confidential FBI source that he wanted to be on the front lines overseas and use C-4, an explosive, in an attack. Santana agreed.

“I wanna do C-4s if I could put one of these trucks right here with my, with that. Just drive into, like, the baddest military base,” Santana said, according to the complaint.

Santana added he wanted to use a large quantity of the explosive. “If I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna take out a whole base. Might as well make it, like, big, ya know,” he said.

According to the complaint, at the shooting range that day both Santana and Deleon told a confidential FBI source they were excited about the rewards from becoming a shaheed, which is Arabic for martyr.

Ten days later, during another trip to the shooting range to fire assault-style rifles, Santana told the source he had been around gangs and had no problem taking a life.

On Sept. 30, Gojali was recruited to the plot after he was asked if he had it in him to kill in jihad. Gojali answered, “Yeah, of course.”

“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, according to the complaint.

The men wiped their Facebook pages of radical Islamist content and photos of themselves in traditional Muslim attire, and devised a cover story that they were going to Afghanistan to attend Kabir’s wedding.

Federal authorities said the trio and the FBI’s confidential source bought airplane tickets last week for a Sunday flight from Mexico City to Istanbul, with plans to later continue to Kabul.

After Kabir began talking to him about Islam, Santana said he “accepted Islam without knowing anything about it besides it being the truth” and that he believed the religion would help him “fit in and actually be able to fight for something that’s right,” according to the complaint.

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.

Kabir is being detained in Afghanistan. The other three appeared for a detention hearing Monday in Riverside, and all but Gojali were remanded to federal custody with no bail. His detention hearing was delayed.

After-hours calls left for the men’s attorneys were not immediately returned Monday.

A preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 3, and an arraignment is set for Dec. 5.

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.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Ayman al-Zawahiri’s latest message to the Egyptian People

Could al-Zawahiri’s messages to the Egyptian people after their relatively peaceful overthrow  of the Mubarak regime mark a sign that that al Qaeda is feeling marginalized?

(Courtesy of the NEFA Foundation)

”In the name of Allah, and praise Allah, and prayer and peace upon the messenger of Allah and upon his family and companions and followers, and thereafter:”
“Muslim brothers everywhere, peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.”
“The past episode, I discussed one part to answer the first question, which is: what is this reality? And today, I will finish, with the help of Allah, talking about the reality in Egypt. But before I go forth in explaining the present, I would like to step outside the focus of this message—message of hope and glad tidings for our people in Egypt—to discuss an important and dangerous subject, which is the honor [and protection] of Muslims’ blood, which the prophet, prayer and peace upon him, mentioned [Hadith].“
“There are some operations that are being attributed to the Mujahideen truthfully or falsely, which include attacking the Muslims in their mosques, markets or their gatherings. I say: regardless of the truthfulness…of attributing these operation to the Mujahideen, my brothers and I in Qaida’t al-Jihad disown, by Allah, these operations and condemn them, whether those who commit them the Mujahideen or others.”
“And Amir of Believers Mulla Muhammad Omar Mujahid—may Allah protect him—has previously discussed this matter, and also Sheikh Usama bin Laden—may Allah protect him—discussed it, and also it was discussed by Sheikh Atteyatullah, and Sheikh Abu Yehya al-Liby, may Allah protect him, and I also discussed this matter previously. And Sheikh Usama bin Laden—may Allah protect him—ordered me again to emphasize this matter.”

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Department of Homeland Security warns public about social networking sites

By Tina Terry tterry@nbcaugusta.com

Ti Singh is like 399,000,000 others on the planet. She uses Facebook to stay connected with family and friends, but even she knows there are boundaries.

“Just like you can be used for good, to reconnect with friends, you can use it for evil,” said Singh.

Anthony Saxon, the man accused of causing a security scare on Fort Gordon last week, had a Facebook and a Myspace page. Some say they painted a clear picture of an obsession with the military.

The Department of Homeland Security is warning Americans to use caution on Social Networking Sites, because you never really know who your talking to.

The site warns Americans to view the internet as a novel not a diary. Be careful what you advertise. It says things like email addresses, information about your past, your job, family and friends can all lead to phishing attacks.

Overall officials with the department want you to remember that what you put online you can’t take back and sometimes when you don’t realize it strangers are watching.

The Department of Homeland Security points out that Identity theft is a growing problem. Officials there say the more information you give out about yourself, the easier it is for someone else to pretend to be you.

For more tips, visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website at http://www.us-cert.gov/cas/tips/.

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