Los Angeles -- Irv Rubin, the leader of the Jewish Defense League, was declared brain-dead today after what federal authorities called a suicide attempt earlier in the day. Mr. Rubin was in jail here on charges of plotting to bomb a mosque and the office of an Arab-American congressman.
Mr. Rubin used a razor to slash his neck and throat and then fell or jumped from a balcony at the federal Metropolitan Detention center as he and other inmates lined up for breakfast before 5:30 a.m., a spokesman for the United States Marshals Service said.
"We're told that he is brain-dead and on life support," Mr. Rubin's lawyer, Peter Morris, said.
Mr. Rubin's family said he had been attacked by someone. "My husband would never kill himself. This was a hit, this was a hit," said his wife, Shelley Rubin.
"I saw my husband yesterday. He was just the same as before. He didn't say goodbye. He said I will see you in court tomorrow. He was fine," she said.
Mr. Rubin and an associate were arrested on Dec. 11 on charges of plotting to bomb the King Fahd mosque in Culver City and an office of Representative Darrell Issa, Republican of California, who is the grandson of Lebanese immigrants.
Mr. Rubin was arrested after an F.B.I. informer delivered an explosive powder that the authorities believed was the last component in making pipe bombs. The charges carry up to 40 years in prison.
Mr. Rubin, who by his own account has been arrested more than 40 times, joined the J.D.L. early in the 1970's and quickly moved up, becoming chairman in 1985.
In 1989, the leader of the rival Jewish Defense Organization, Mordechai Levy, was convicted of assault after firing shots at Mr. Rubin and wounding three others in New York.
According to his biography, Mr. Rubin learned to fight anti-Semitism while growing up in Montreal, "where some hotel owners and other business people hung signs reading `No Dogs or Jews Allowed' on their doors and where French Canadian schoolchildren taunted him because he was Jewish."
His family emigrated to the United States in 1961 and he became a citizen and joined the Air Force in 1966, serving four years.
In 1973, he served in Israel's civil defense corps during the Yom Kippur War.
The J.D.L., whose symbol is a raised fist inside a Star of David, has the motto "Never Again," referring to the Holocaust.
It was founded in 1968 by Meir Kahane to mount armed response to anti-Semitic acts in New York City.