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Four SoCal Men Busted For Participating in Terrorist Plot Targeting Americans

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Four Southern Californian residents have been charged for their roles in a plot to provide material support to terrorists as part of a plan to kill American targets, according to the FBI. The four men are suspected of making arrangements to join up with Al-Qai'da and the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to participate in the terrorist plot.

The men are identified as follows: Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, a former resident of Pomona and naturalized United States citizen, born in Afghanistan; Ralph Deleon, 23, of Ontario, a lawful permanent resident alien, born in the Philippines.; Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 21, of Upland, a lawful permanent resident, born in Mexico and whose application for citizenship is pending in the United States; and Arifeen David Gojali, 21, of Riverside, a United States citizen.

A criminal complaint has been filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California against the four SoCal men. The charges include allegations the men were intending to carry out the following, as detailed in a release issued by the FBI:

  • conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons and damage property in a foreign country, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 956;
  • killing and attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1114;
  • killing nationals of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332(b);
  • conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332a(b); and
  • bombing places of public use and government facilities, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332f.

Monday marked the defendants' first appearance in court, at which time the complaint was unsealed, making public for the first time details of their alleged terrorist activities. The men's connections go back to 2010, with Kabir serving as the chief liaison who provided reading and viewing materials to two of the men--Deleon and Vidriales--and who traveled to Afghanistan this summer and told those men he had made contacts with known terrorist associates.
Those two men revealed to a confidential FBI source they were planning to go to Afghanistan to participate in "violent jihad." Deleon and Vidriales shared information about potential targets, including overseas American military personnel and bases. Soon after they recruited Gojali to join them, and the three participated in preliminary training for their planned plot here in Southern California.

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Deleon, Vidriales, and Gojali were arrested Friday in California, wile Kabir is in custody in Afghanistan. If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.