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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

U.S. Attorney Holds News Conference on JDL Arrests

Aired December 12, 2001 - 15:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go quickly now to Los Angeles once again, to our Charles Feldman, where we believe a news conference may soon be getting under way on these arrests of the leaders of the Jewish Defense League there -- Charles.

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it looks like it's going to happen. In fact, there it is now. So let's take the news conference live.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

JOHN S. GORDON, U.S. ATTORNEY: Good afternoon. I'm John Gordon, United States Attorney for the Central District of California. I'm joined today by Ron Iden, the assistant director in charge of the FBI here in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Department chief, Bernard Parks. Brian Nagel, special agent in charge of the Los Angeles office of the Secret Service, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Jesner (ph), Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Rubenstein.

We are hear to announce the arrest of two men alleged to be members of the Jewish Defense League, who have been charged with conspiring to bomb Arab and Muslim targets in southern California. The two defendants arrested last night are Irv Rubin, alleged to be the head of the JDL, and Earl Krugel, alleged to be a leading member of the JDL.

Rubin and Krugel were charged this morning in United States district court with two federal crimes: conspiring to destroy a building by means of an explosive device and possessing a destructive device in connection with a crime of violence.

The charges in this case are the result of an investigation which the FBI developed information indicating that Krugel and Rubin were conspiring to construct a bomb to blow up a building housing an Islamic or Arab-American religious or political group. In recent days, the defendants developed a list of targets that included the Muslim Public Affairs Council, in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles, the King Fahd mosque in Culver City, and the offices of United States Congressman Darrell Issa.

The bombing plot developed to the point that explosive powder was delivered to Krugel's house last night. At the time the powder was delivered, Krugel had in his house the remaining components needed to make the bomb. All of the bomb components were seized during the execution of a search warrant at Krugel's house, following the delivery of the explosive powder. Rubin and Krugel were both arrested at their homes last night by members of the joint terrorism task force. Both defendants are scheduled to make their initial appearance today in federal court at 2:00 p.m.

Not long after the September 11 terrorist attacks, I announced my office's promise to vigorously prosecute hate crimes, and urged the residents of this community not to resort to religious or political terrorism in the aftermath of September 11. Last night's arrests confirm that we meant what we said.

If you cross the line from expressing your political or religious beliefs to committing violent against those whose beliefs are offensive to you, then you will likely end up facing federal prosecution on charges carrying extremely long prison sentences.

I'd now like to turn the lectern over to FBI assistant director in charge, Ron Iden.

RONALD IDEN, FBI ASST. DIRECTOR, L.A. OFFICE: Thank you, John.

Late last night, the Los Angeles joint terrorism task force arrested Irving Rubin of Monrovia, California and Earl Krugel of Reseda, California, for their involvement in a criminal conspiracy to manufacture and detonate explosive devices targeting Muslim and Arab buildings.

According to the complaint, targets included the Muslim Public Affairs Council office in Los Angeles, a Los Angeles area mosque and the office of a U.S. congressman. Both Rubin and Krugel are members of the Los Angeles chapter of the Jewish Defense League. During October of this year, a cooperating source reported that he had been asked by Rubin and Krugel to participate in the bombings of Arab or Muslim targets in Los Angeles.

According to the complaint, Krugel said that Arabs "needed a wake-up call." And Rubin said that the JDL needed to let people know that they are alive, in a militant way. During subsequent meetings, the source was instructed to locate and photograph offices of the Muslim Public Affairs Council and to purchase bomb components, including pipe and explosive powder.

Krugel said that he would build the bomb at his residence. The source was told that he would be expected to place the bomb at the intended targets. As the conspiracy progressed, Rubin said that the target would be a mosque, rather than the Muslim Public Affairs Council office. Last night, Rubin and Krugel told the source that the first bombing targets would be the King Fahd mosque, in Culver City, California, and an office of Congressman Darrell Issa.

When the source delivered the last required bomb component, that being the explosive powder, both Rubin and Krugel were arrested and their residences were searched by members of the task force. Recovered during the search of Krugel's residence were all of the required bomb components, including two 2-inch diameter by 12-inch long lengths of pipe, as well as a number of firearms. The prevention of this planned violent act of hatred illustrates the successful working relationship of many of the law enforcement agencies within the joint terrorism task force. I'd like to thank and commend all of the members of the task force, who did such an outstanding job in this case, as they have done for many years since the task force inception.

Two of our fundamental rights in this country are freedom of religion and freedom of speech. When extremists plan and then take steps to carry out criminal acts of violence and hate, those criminals have exceeded their rights. And we will dedicate whatever resources necessary to stop those acts and protect all of our citizens. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We've been listening to a news conference in Los Angeles. The U.S. Attorney there and FBI officials explaining the arrest of two leaders of the Jewish Defense League there, because they were planning to explode a bomb of some sort at a mosque in Culver City, and also at the offices of Congressman Darrell Issa, who is a congressman in the southern part of California. There is a picture of him there, Republican congressman, just elected to his first term.

CNN's Charles Feldman is there, and has been listening as well. Charles, it sounds like the informant was enormously helpful, almost from the very beginning of this plot.

FELDMAN: Yes, very much so. And as we just heard, apparently because the informant was not under the impression, at least in the initial stages of this alleged conspiracy, that a mosque was going to be one of the targets, and when this person found out late last night that one of the two first targets planned was a mosque in Culver City and the office of this first-term congressman in southern California, that's when that particular person went to the FBI and said, hey, look, you know, this is something that you guys better know about.

And when they went to the two locations, they say they found enough explosive material there to carry out this alleged plot.

WOODRUFF: All right, CNN's Charles Feldman, reporting for us from Los Angeles.

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