FBI: California terror suspects trained at paintball, gun ranges
Four Inland Empire men charged with plotting to join Al Qaeda and the Taliban and threatening to commit "violent jihad" against Americans trained at Southern California paintball courses and shooting ranges, the FBI said.
A complaint unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Riverside detailed some of the specifics of the plot, which resulted in the arrests of the four men: former Pomona resident Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34; Ontario resident Ralph Deleon, 23; Upland resident Miguel Alejandro Santana, 21; and Riverside resident Arifeen David Gojali, 21.
Kabir allegedly left the United States last year and traveled to Afghanistan in July to set up terrorist training with Al Qaeda and Taliban members, according to the complaint. He is also accused of converting Deleon and Santana to "radical and violent Islamic doctrine."
Santana and Kabir allegedly posted terrorist audio and video files on Facebook pages and communicated via Skype when Kabir was overseas, federal authorities said in the complaint.
Kabir, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001, according to court records filed with the complaint. The records did not specify why Kabir spent only a year in the service.
A portion of the case rests on a confidential source who befriended Santana and Deleon and wore a recording device, according to the complaint.
The source was paid more than $250,000 by the federal government in October and received unspecified "immigration benefits," according to a footnote in the complaint. The source was previously convicted of trafficking in pseudoephedrine.
"At various times," the complaint alleged, "Santana and Deleon discussed their preferred roles in committing violent jihad." Santana allegedly said he wanted to be a sniper, and Deleon allegedly said he wanted to be on the "front lines."
To prepare, the men allegedly practiced firing semiautomatic weapons at area shooting ranges, according to the complaint.
In September, Santana and Deleon recruited Gojali, a U.S. citizen, to travel overseas with them and join Kabir for terrorist training, according to federal authorities. In order to make the trip, the men raised money and discussed various cover stories and code words to conceal their plot while traveling abroad, the Press-Enterprise reported, citing the complaint.
Santana, Gojali and Deleon were apprehended Friday by authorities with the Join Terrorism Task Force. They appeared before a magistrate Monday in federal court in Riverside. Kabir was apprehended by authorities in Afghanistan.
The investigation is ongoing, officials said. If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in federal prison.