Facebook posts shed light on Southern California terror plot suspect
The still-active Facebook page of one of the Southern California men charged with plotting to join Al Qaeda and the Taliban shows a flurry of activity this month and signs that he was preparing to leave the country.
Authorities say that Ralph Deleon, of Ontario was one of three men recruited by Sohiel Omar Kabir, a Pomona resident, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in federal court.
Deleon, 23, as well as alleged co-conspirators Miguel Alejandro Santana, 21, and Arifeen David Gojali, 23, 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. If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in federal prison.
According to his Facebook page, Deleon was studying business marketing at Cal State San Bernardino. School officials confirmed that a 23-year-old student named Ralph Deleon was enrolled studying business administration beginning in fall 2007 but withdrew this September.
The account shows new photos, links and articles posted between Oct 31. and Nov. 14 -- changing his profile and cover photos almost daily.
The Facebook profile says Deleon joined the social network on May 19, 2008, but his publicly available profile contains no posts before April 2012.
Court documents say the men discussed scrubbing their Facebook profiles clean of any incriminating posts related to Islam. They told the FBI’s confidential informant that they did this to “keep a low profile in anticipation of their trip overseas.”
Some signs of Deleon’s Islamic beliefs remain, however.
On Aug. 3, Deleon posted a status reading “g2g,” shorthand for “got to go.”
When a Facebook friend asked him what it meant, Deleon responded: “no one really knows what g2g means so dont trip,” to which the Facebook friend replied: “U a good brother.. IA we meet up again someday..”
Deleon replied: “Insha Allah like wise. If not here on the other side (:”
On Oct. 2, he shared a YouTube video showing a spoken response to the “Innocence of Muslims” video, an inflammatory movie mocking the Prophet Muhammad that sparked violent protests across the Middle East.
In the comments under the video, Deleon tagged 17 people -- including “Miguel Santana” and “Arifeen D. Gojali” -- to bring the post to their attention.
On Nov. 6 he shared a YouTube video response to a video called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." The response was titled the “Muslim version.”
Other Facebook posts were innocuous. They included pictures of himself smoking a hookah and marijuana, a photo of Dodger Stadium as well as a number of random quotes from philosophers and writers.
On Nov. 5, Deleon shared a link to a Craigslist post advertising a 2004 Nissan Altima for sale near Chino for $7,000.
“Getting rid of it because I'm leaving the country (A.S.A.P.) Need money fast,” the advertisement reads.
On Nov. 7, he wrote: “No matter how reclusive we tend to be, we picture the after-life as a community of souls. It is one thing to seek privacy in this life; it is another to face eternity alone.”
In Ralph's Deleon's old neighborhood in Ontario, a former next-door neighbor said the family had moved to Rancho Cucamonga three or four years ago.
A woman now living in the Deleon's old home, a modest, well-trimmed stucco house on a corner, said she had only met the family a few times before they moved to Rancho Cucamonga.
Frances Villagran, 64, said the family was pleasant and kept mostly to themselves.
"They were really good people," Villagran said. "Good neighbors."
-- Wesley Lowery in Los Angeles and Phil Willon in Riverside