Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

September 6, 2005

Terrorist Attack Averted

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:57 am

It seems that a major terrorist attack planned for the Los Angeles area has been averted. This from Daniel Pipes:

The Jewish High Holidays this year fall in early October, and that’s when a massacre was planned against two Los Angeles synagogues, as well as other targets, according to an indictment just handed down against four young Muslim men.

Law enforcement traces the origins of this plot to 1997. That’s when Kevin Lamar James, a black inmate at New Folsom Prison, near Sacramento, California, founded Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS, Arabic for “Assembly of Authentic Islam”). JIS promotes the sort of jihadi version of Islam typical of American jails. As the indictment puts it, James, now 29, preached that JIS members have the duty “to target for violent attack any enemies of Islam or ‘infidels,’ including the United States government and Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of Israel.”

James, serving a 10-year prison sentence for an armed robbery in 1996, recruited acolytes among fellow prisoners. Volunteers swore to obey him and not to disclose the existence of JIS. On release from prison, they promised to get directives from him at least every three months, recruit Muslims to JIS, and attack government officials and supporters of Israel.

Two men, both 21 years old and without criminal records, did sign up: Hammad Riaz Samana, a lawful Pakistani immigrant and student at Santa Monica College, and Gregory Vernon Patterson, a black convert who had worked at a duty-free shop in Los Angeles International Airport. The three, plus James, now face up to life in prison for conspiring “to levy a war against the Government of the United States through terrorism.”

They did so in five ways. They conducted surveillance of U.S. government targets (military recruitment stations and bases), Israeli targets (the Los Angeles consulate and El Al), and Jewish targets (synagogues). The trio monitored the Jewish calendar and, the indictment notes, planned to attack synagogues on Jewish holidays “to maximize the number of casualties.”

They acquired an arsenal of weapons. To fund this undertaking, they set off on a crime wave, robbing (or attempting to rob) gas stations eleven times in the five weeks after May 30. They engaged in physical and firearms training. Finally, they tried recruiting other Muslims.

But Patterson dropped a mobile telephone during the course of one gas station robbery, and the police retrieved it. Information from the phone set off an FBI-led investigation that involved more than 25 agencies and 500 investigators.

Although Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales lavished praise on “the work of able investigators at all levels of government” in solving this case, law enforcement was as clueless about the JIS gang as was its British counterpart about the 7/7 bombers. If not for the lucky break of a dropped phone, the jihadis probably would have struck. It is extremely disturbing to see law enforcement pat itself on the back for ineptitude.

Needless to say, this will get a lot less news coverage than if the attacks had actually been carried out.

Chillingly, Pipes concludes:

The emergence of a primarily African-American Islamist terrorist cell signals a new trend. Native-born Americans have taken part in terrorist operations before, but (again, as in London), this case this marks their first large-scale plot.

Terrorist plans that fail don’t make headlines, but they should. This was a near-miss. Home-grown radical Islam has arrived and will do damage.

Even though most Jews resist acknowledging it, the Muslim threat is changing Jewish life in the United States. The golden age of American Jewry is coming to an end.

I don’t know if he’s right about that last point, but if he is, we’re in real trouble, because the situation is even worse nearly everywhere else. A Jewish family from France moved to my neighborhood (near Washington, DC) about a year ago to escape antisemitic violence there — and when I mentioned this to a (non-Jewish) French woman I met, she nodded knowingly and confirmed that it was a good idea for them to get out.

The United States is the one major country where Jews have lived, from which we have never been expelled and in which we have never suffered from large-scale antisemitic violence. But that was true 900 years ago in Spain, too, and it changed there.

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