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FBI went to terror suspect's home with sledgehammers, neighbor says

November 20, 2012 | 11:03 am

A neighbor of one of the four California men charged in a terror plot to commit "violent jihad" said she was shocked and scared when the FBI descended onto the fourplex on her quiet Upland street last week.

"It was an ordinary day, I was feeding my son breakfast, and the next thing I know, there's a lot of cars ... and FBI people with vests on ... and they had a pry bar and sledgehammers," said Jen Collins, 24.

Collins lives near a house that public records indicate is associated with Miguel Alejandro Santana, one of four men charged with plotting to join Al Qaeda and the Taliban, according to a complaint unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Riverside.

DOCUMENT: 4 L.A.-area men arrested in alleged terror plot

Jen Collins, 24, holds her 18-month-old son David and describes the scene of an FBI raid at an Upland apartment, associated with suspect Miguel Alejandro Santana. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles TimesCollins said she had little contact with her neighbors and did not know them well. According to the government's complaint, Santana, 21, had been introduced to "radical Islamic doctrine" by another man, Sohiel Imar Kabir, 34, and had influenced him to convert to Islam. Santana is accused of telling a confidential source working for the FBI that he planned to go to Afghanistan to take part in "violent jihad," according to the complaint.

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.

Over the course of the past several months, Santana made numerous plans to join Kabir, according to the 77-page complaint, which lays out a portrait of young men dedicated to their beliefs -- and willing to kill for them.

Santana allegedly said he wanted to go to Afghanistan  because he believed the U.S.  military bases there could easily be ambushed “from every direction.” He said the region was “more active” and expressed an interest in joining “AQ,” or Al Qaeda.

"The more I think about it, the more it excites me," Santana said, according to the complaint.

He was arrested last Friday at another location. That same day, about a dozen FBI agents spent several hours going in and out of the home in Upland carrying boxes.


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-- Jessica Garrison and Irfan Khan

Photo: Jen Collins, 24, holds her 18-month-old son, David, and describes the scene of an FBI raid at an Upland apartment associated with suspect Miguel Alejandro Santana. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times