Four charged in homegrown terror plot: L.A. Now Live
Times Inland Empire correspondent Phil Willon will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. to discuss the alleged terror plot involving four Southern California men who were arrested and charged after a months-long investigation into what authorities said was a plan to commit a "violent jihad."
A federal complaint unsealed this week against the suspects depicts them as intent on joining Al Qaeda and killing American and U.S.-led coalition troops in Afghanistan. But the court papers indicate that their alleged road to martyrdom was rutted with endless logistical problems, dubious connections overseas and their own equivocating over the smallest decisions: How do you pack for a jihad?
Three of the suspects lived in quiet neighborhoods in Ontario, Upland and Riverside. A fourth, Sohiel Kabir, 34, is a native Afghan and naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in Pomona and served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001.
Their alleged plan seemed -- at least based on the complaint -- amateur, with a social media path that easily pointed the way back to them.
The alleged aspiring terrorists "liked" each other's jihadist Facebook postings. When they played paintball in Corona to prepare, they commended each other for going full-throttle for shaheed (martyrdom) against timid opponents, according to the complaint. One man, the court papers said, vowed to start hiking to get to know mountain terrain, and maybe try skydiving to see how he handled fear.
But federal officials took the defendants' alleged plans extremely seriously, and expended "extraordinary resources" to track and stop them, David Bowdich, FBI special agent in charge of counter-terrorism in Los Angeles, said at a news conference Tuesday.
"Not only were they playing paintball, they were going to shooting ranges," Bowdich said. "They saw this as jihad."