Two Calif. Men Charged In Plot to Bomb Mosque

Both Belong to Militant Jewish Group

Washington Post/December 13, 2001
By William Booth

Los Angeles -- Two leaders of the militant Jewish Defense League were arrested here Tuesday night as they were assembling bombs to use in planned attacks against one of the city's largest mosques and the local offices of an Arab American House member, federal officials announced today.

The two men, Irving David Rubin and Earl Leslie Krugel, were charged today with conspiracy to manufacture and detonate bombs targeting Arab and Muslim buildings in the Los Angeles area, as well as the San Clemente offices of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who is a grandson of Lebanese immigrants.

Krugel, 59, was arrested at his home in Reseda as he was receiving delivery from a police informant of five pounds of gunpowder of the type used to fire cannons. Inside the home were two drilled foot-long pipes, end caps and fuses. There were also a dozen rifles and handguns.

FBI officials described the bomb components as relatively sophisticated, ready for assembly and capable of blowing out the doors and windows of a building and killing anyone nearby.

"The devices appeared to be constructed to destroy property, though, of course, anyone near them when they exploded probably would have been seriously injured or killed," said Ronald Iden, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office.

Krugel was described by the FBI as "a leading member" of the Jewish Defense League and Rubin as "the leader" of the group, which federal officials characterized today as "a violent, subversive organization" that was preparing to engage in acts of domestic terrorism. The FBI had the organization under surveillance since receiving a tip from an informant in October, officials said.

In court papers, FBI agents detailed wiretaps and taped conversations between the informant and Rubin and Krugel in which they discussed their motivations. Krugel stated that "Arabs needed a wake-up call and that the JDL needed to do something to one of their 'filthy' mosques," according to FBI wiretaps.

The JDL was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane to defend Jews against anti-Semitic attacks in New York during the 1980s. Kahane was murdered in 1990. Before his death, he founded the extremist Kach party in Israel, which advocated the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel and Israeli-occupied territories.

Rubin, 56, was arrested Tuesday evening while driving near his home after meeting with Krugel and an FBI informant at Jerry's Famous Deli in Encino.

Rubin's attorney, Peter Morris, said his client is innocent and the victim of overzealous prosecution by the government in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. If convicted, Rubin and Krugel face 30 years in prison.

Rubin and Krugel had been under surveillance since the confidential source approached the FBI and told agents that he was a member of the JDL and that he had planted a bomb at a mosque at the direction of JDL leaders.

FBI officials declined to reveal more information about the confidential source or the alleged bombings in the past.

But according to federal investigators, the source met repeatedly with Rubin and Krugel to purchase bomb components, to discuss tactics and to review photographs of possible targets.

In one exchange, Rubin allegedly said that "it was his desire to blow up an entire building, but the JDL did not have the technology to accomplish such a bomb."

In the wiretaps, Krugel and Rubin tell the informant that the bombings should strike buildings and not human targets -- "because they still had not heard the end of the Alex Odeh incident," a reference to the ongoing investigation into the 1985 murder in Santa Ana, Calif., of Alexander Odeh, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Odeh was killed when a bomb delivered to his office blew up. A $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone connected with the Odeh bombing was announced today.

The targets discussed by Rubin and Krugel, according to the FBI, included the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, the offices of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles and the southern California offices of Issa.

Today, Issa, a freshman member of the House, said: "I have no way of knowing why I have become the focus and target of these individuals. Like most Americans, my hope and wish is for a peaceful resolution to the Middle East conflict."

The Muslim Public Affairs Council employs about a dozen people in a large office building along Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The council works to educate the media, the public and elected officials about Islam.

Salam Marayati, the council's executive director in Los Angeles, said that one of his colleagues was threatened after a recent speech at the University of Judaism. But, otherwise, the council has not received any specific terrorist threats, he said.

Marayati said that if the attack had succeeded, it would have terrified local Muslims in the midst of Ramadan celebrations.

"People are trying to focus on their spiritual needs," Marayati said. "It really would have amounted to carnage on our streets."

Marayati praised the FBI for "showing and underscoring that terrorism is not monopolized by any one religion. It's a problem across the board."

However, he was concerned that future attacks could be in the works.

"We don't believe that it's limited to two people," Marayati said. "We're concerned that there's a wider network."

Mainstream Jewish groups applauded law enforcement for the arrests and denounced the JDL and its members.

"The Jewish Defense League is a tiny organization that employs tactics that are counter to the values of the Jewish community," said Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, a director of the American Jewish Committee.

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