December 15, 2007

The Terrorist Plot No One Talked About

A terrorist conspiracy to attack military sites and synagogues developed among prison Muslims for years, and yet hardly any mention of the conspiracy made the news. The Los Angeles Times picks up the story no one else seems interested in reporting, noting that two of the accused have pled guilty to the conspiracy:

Two members of a prison-based Islamic terrorist cell that authorities say was poised to attack military sites, synagogues and other targets across Southern California pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to conspiring to wage war against the United States.

The plot, which police stumbled upon during a routine investigation into a gas station holdup, represented one of the most realistic terrorism threats on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, experts said. The case also raised concerns about whether the country's prisons could serve as recruiting centers for Islamic extremists.

As the defendants entered their pleas, prosecutors made public several documents detailing the group's operations. One handwritten paper, titled "Modes of Attack," includes a list of National Guard facilities, Army recruiting centers and something referred to as the "camp site of Zion."

Another two-page document, labeled "Blueprint 2005," sets out eight tasks to be accomplished in furtherance of the plot. "We will need bombs that can be activated from a distance," one entry reads. "Acquire two weapons (pistols) with silencers," reads another.

Kevin Lamar James and Levar Haney Washington, members of the homegrown radical Islamic organization dubbed JIS, entered guilty pleas in front of U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney in federal court in Santa Ana.

The investigation started as a routine probe into a gas-station robbery. Police in Torrance discovered the group's manifesto, a list of targets, and a post-attack warning for people to avoid contact with Jews and non-Jewish supporters of "the Zionist state". Torrance called in the feds, who believe that the group had almost completed its preparations for a major attack in Los Angeles.

It is no secret that Muslims have recruited many converts in the prison system. This effort goes back decades, and Malcolm X may be the most famous of these converts. Traditionally, they have tried to create a political awareness and activism in these converts, and even with Malcolm X, some thought that edged towards terrorism. It certainly looked that way when Malcom X got murdered, apparently by the Nation of Islam, for dissenting and splintering from their leadership. It doesn't take much imagination to see how that process can be used to inspire already resentful inmates into attacking their own country, at least inspired by al-Qaeda.

Unfortunately, the national news media has decided that this story doesn't have the same newsworthiness of the Miami group's plot to blow up the Sears Tower. The pundit class has used that as an example of the inconsequential nature of the threat of home-grown jihadiism. They have neglected to give much reporting to the excellent and fortuitous work by federal, state, and local officials in this case, exposing a potential root of home-grown terror. Like my friends at Power Line, I'm hardly sanguine that this particular threat has been terminated.


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