3 US citizens accused of trying to join al Qaeda indicted in California

Three young men were indicted with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists in a California court on Wednesday. The FBI says they were planning to join with Taliban militants for training in Afghanistan.

Jenny Collins/AP
Law enforcement and FBI agents during a raid at the home of 21-year-old Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales of Upland, Calif. on November 16. Santana was one of three Southern California men indicted with conspiracy to provide support to terrorists in a California court on Wednesday.

Three men accused of plotting to join up with al Qaeda and Taliban militants for training in Afghanistan were indicted on Wednesday in California in a move that could allow prosecutors to move to trial more quickly.

But the four-page indictment, returned by a grand jury in Riverside, offered few details beyond those contained in a criminal complaint filed earlier this month against the men, all U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The indictment charged Ralph Kenneth Deleon, 23, Miguel Alejandro Vidriales Santana, 21, and Arifeen David Gojali, 21, with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, the same charge contained in the complaint.

The filing of the indictment allows federal prosecutors to skip a preliminary hearing in which they would lay out their case and a judge would determine if there was enough evidence to merit a trial. The men each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

The three men had lived in Southern California's Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles, before their arrest on Nov. 16, two days before they had planned to fly to Turkey via Mexico before heading on to Afghanistan, the FBI said at the time.

The suspected ringleader, Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, is accused of recruiting the three men, two of whom converted to Islam under his influence. Kabir was apprehended this month in Afghanistan, but was not listed in Wednesday's indictment.

Kabir, who was charged in the previously filed criminal complaint, is still being held in Afghanistan, said Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman for the FBI. She declined to comment further on the case.

Deleon and Santana, in conversations relayed or recorded by an unidentified paid FBI informant, spoke about traveling to Afghanistan to join Kabir and engage in "violent jihad," according to the criminal complaint. It said they described potential targets for attacks, including U.S. military bases.

Together with Gojali, they also visited a Los Angeles firing range and a paint-ball facility for shooting practice to prepare for further militant training overseas, the FBI has said.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 3 US citizens accused of trying to join al Qaeda indicted in California
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2012/1128/3-US-citizens-accused-of-trying-to-join-al-Qaeda-indicted-in-California
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe