Two JDL leaders charged in bomb plot
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Federal authorities Wednesday charged two leaders of the Jewish Defense League with conspiring to blow up Arab and Muslim institutions in southern California, including the offices of Arab-American congressman Rep. Darrell Issa.
Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel were taken into federal custody following late Tuesday raids by members of an antiterrorism task force, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney John S. Gordon.
"When you target innocents based on religious or political affiliation or belief, we consider that terrorist activity," Gordon said.
"Their primary motivation was to send a 'wake-up call' or terrorize Muslims or Arabs and alert the local, if not national, community to the JDL's commitment to attack those targets."
Targets included the office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, the King Fahad mosque in Culver City and the offices of Issa, who represents a district along the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, according to Gordon.
Issa, a first-term Republican and Christian of Arab-American descent, serves on a House subcommittee that deals with Middle Eastern affairs.
The phone message at JDL's Los Angeles headquarters strongly criticizes Issa for his recent trip to the region.
"This is shocking news to receive," Issa said at a news conference Wednesday, flanked by several prominent Jewish members of Congress. "This was an unusual act by a small band of criminals, in all likelihood."
Another JDL associate, invited to participate in the conspiracy in October, foiled the suspected plot when he cooperated with the FBI, said Ron Iden, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office.
Rubin, the group's chairman and a resident of Monrovia, and Krugel were arrested after the informant delivered the final component needed to make pipe bombs -- five pounds of explosive powder -- to Krugel's house in Reseda, Iden said.
Both men were charged with conspiring to destroy a building with an explosive device and possessing a destructive device in connection with a violent crime, Gordon said. The first charge carries a prison sentence of up to five years, the second a mandatory 30-year sentence.
The Jewish Defense League is a militant Los Angeles-based group that advocates the return of all Jews to Israel and the use of "all necessary means -- even strength, force and violence" -- to defend the interests of Jews, according to its Web site. Its logo contains a silhouette of a clenched fist over the Star of David.
Rabbi Meir Kahane founded the organization to mount armed response to anti-Semitic acts in New York. The group gained notoriety when its members were linked to bombings, most of them aimed at Soviet targets in retaliation for the treatment of Jews in Russia.
Kahane left the group and moved to Israel. He was assassinated in New York in 1990. El Sayyid Nosair, 36, an Egyptian-born Muslim, was convicted in connection with the shooting.
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