Alleged terror plot ringleader was in USAF

RIVERSIDE, Calif., Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The accused head of an alleged terror plot in California had served in the U.S. Air Force and was honorably discharged in 2001, military records indicate.

Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34 -- one of four suspects arrested Friday on suspicion of plotting "violent jihad" against Americans -- was born in Afghanistan but is now a U.S. citizen. He was arrested in Afghanistan Friday, when three other suspects were arrested in Chicano, Calif.


The four are charged with plotting to kill Americans as enemies of Islam after joining al-Qaida and the Taliban, the FBI said.

Kabir -- who is charged with recruiting the other three suspects -- lived in Pomona, Calif., before going to Germany in December 2011 and then going on to Afghanistan in July, prosecutors said.

U.S. Air Force records show Kabir was in the service from July 20, 2000, until Dec. 17, 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. The records contain no indication of where Kabir was stationed or why he left the Air Force, the newspaper said.

Prosecutors said Kabir recruited Ralph Deleon, 23, of Ontario, Calif., and Miguel Alejandro Santana, 21, of Pomona, in 2010 and introduced them to "radical and violent Islamic doctrine of U.S.-born Yemeni cleric and al-Qaida member Anwar al-Awlaki," a complaint unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Riverside, Calif., stated.


The United States killed Awlaki Sept. 30, 2011, in a Predator drone strike in Yemen.

Santana and Deleon allegedly recruited Arifeen David Gojali, a U.S. citizen, for the alleged plot.

Deleon, Santa and Gojali had been set to travel to Afghanistan Sunday, the Times reported.

Santana and Deleon allegedly told a confidential source working for the FBI they planned to go to Afghanistan to take part in "violent jihad," the complaint said.

The jihad plot included bombing government facilities and public places, killing "officers and employees of the United States" and killing U.S. nationals, the complaint said.

Charges include conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States, the complaint said.

Santana, Gojali and Deleon were apprehended Friday by authorities with the U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force. The men appeared before a magistrate Monday in federal court in Riverside.

If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in federal prison, officials said.

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