Jewish Militants Held in Bomb Plot; California Mosque, Offices Allegedly Targeted
LOS ANGELES — Two leaders of the militant Jewish Defense League were arrested 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 congressman, federal officials announced yesterday.
The two, Irving David Rubin and Earl Leslie Krugel, were charged yesterday 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., the grandson of Lebanese immigrants.
At a bail hearing, U.S. Magistrate Victor Kenton ordered both men held without bail pending arraignment Dec. 31. They were found to be flight risks and dangerous to the community.
The final plans, authorities alleged, were hatched Tuesday night when Rubin identified Issa's office in Vista, and the King Fahd Mosque in the suburb of Culver City as targets and an informer unloaded five pounds of explosive powder in Krugel's garage.
Minutes later, dozens of law-enforcement officials arrested both men without incident — Krugel, 59, at his home and Rubin, 56, in his car, not far from his residence.
Inside Krugel's home were sections of drilled pipe, end caps and detonation fuses. There were also a dozen rifles and handguns.
FBI officials described the bomb components as relatively sophisticated.
"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, assistant director in charge of the FBI Los Angeles field office.
Krugel is described by the FBI as "a leading member" of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) and Rubin as "the leader" of the group, which federal officials yesterday characterized 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 the informer in October, officials said.
In court papers, FBI agents detailed wiretaps and taped conversations between the informer 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 expulsion of Arabs from Israel and Israeli-occupied territories.
Rubin's attorney, Peter Morris, said his client was not guilty and the victim of overzealous prosecution after the Sept. 11 attacks. If convicted, Rubin and Krugel could 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 JDL member who previously 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 alleged bombings. 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.
The targets discussed by Rubin and Krugel, according to the FBI, included the King Fahd Mosque, the offices of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles and Issa's local offices.
Usman Mahda, community liaison for the King Fahd Mosque, said he was shocked to learn of the alleged plot, which comes during Ramadan, Muslims' holiest time.
"There would have been hundreds and hundreds of people, men, women and children, mostly American citizens," Mahda said.
"It is scary. It's sad, and it's disgusting. No Muslims, Jews or Christians should suffer like that."
Information from the Los Angeles Times is included in this report.