- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 13, 2001

Federal authorities have arrested two leaders of the Jewish Defense League on charges of conspiring to blow up a mosque, the offices of a U.S. congressman and the headquarters of an Arab-American group in Los Angeles.
JDL leaders Irv Rubin, 56, and Earl Krugel, 59, were taken into custody Tuesday night by members of the Justice Department's anti-terrorism task force in Los Angeles after an informant reportedly told investigators about the plot.
"We are here to announce the arrest of the two men alleged to be members of the Jewish Defense League who have been charged with conspiring to bomb Arab-American and Muslim targets in southern California," U.S. Attorney John Gordon said yesterday in announcing the arrests at an afternoon press conference.
Prosecutors said Mr. Rubin and Mr. Krugel are believed to have plotted an attack on the King Fahd mosque in Culver City, a Los Angeles suburb, and the offices of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles.
They said the two men also sought to blow up the San Diego-area office of Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and an Arab Christian. Mr. Issa, the grandson of Lebanese immigrants who represents northern San Diego County, is on the House Committee on International Relations and supports Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
"I have no way of knowing why I have become the focus and target of these individuals," Mr. Issa said. "Like most Americans, my hope and wish is for a peaceful resolution to the Middle East conflict. Unfortunately, there are extremists on both sides who oppose a peaceful resolution, and instead choose violence."
Mr. Issa said that while the suspected plot involved members of the JDL, "I know that Jewish-Americans are appalled to hear of a plot like this originating in their community, just as Arab-Americans were appalled by the terrible attacks of September 11."
The government said in a complaint that Mr. Krugel told associates during a meeting that Arabs "need a wake-up call."
"The bombing plot developed to the point that explosive powder was delivered to Krugel's house last night," Mr. Gordon said. "At the time the powder was delivered, Krugel had in his house the remaining components needed to make the bomb."
Mr. Rubin and Mr. Krugel were booked in Los Angeles on charges of conspiracy to destroy a building by means of an explosive, which carries a maximum five-year sentence, and possession of a destructive device related to a crime of violence, which carries a 30-year mandatory sentence.
Mr. Gordon told reporters investigators were notified of the suspected scheme following a series of meetings where the plot to bomb the King Fahd mosque and Mr. Issa's office was discussed. He said the original target had been the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, but that changed during a meeting last weekend.
The arrests came in the wake of pledges by Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that the Justice Department would not tolerate retaliatory hate crimes directed at Arab-Americans.
They said the department and the FBI would aggressively investigate and prosecute violations of the federal hate crime laws. Since the September 11 attacks on America, the department has brought more than 50 hate-crimes investigations involving reported attacks on Arab-American and Muslim residents and institutions.
Mr. Rubin's attorney, Peter Morris, said his client "never had anything to do with explosives."
"It seems to us that given the timing, the government's action is part of an overreaction to the September 11 events," Mr. Morris said.
Tajuddin Shuaib, director of the King Fahd mosque, said he was "astonished" by the suspected plot, which came during Ramadan, the holiest time of the year for Muslims. He said the mosque had received no threats. As many as 1,000 people attend the mosque to pray during the Ramadan season.
"I can't understand why people would do such a thing. We are not against Jews. We are not against anybody. We are like any church or synagogue or temple," Mr. Shuaib said.
Maher Hathout, senior adviser for the Los Angeles chapter of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said the arrests had sent an encouraging message to the Muslim community.
"We can easily develop an attitude that [federal authorities] are out to get us," Mr. Hathout said. "But it seems they are out to get anyone who breaks the law."
The JDL, which claims 13,000 members, was founded in 1968 in New York by Rabbi Meir Kahane as an armed response to anti-Semitism. It also has lobbied for the punishment of Nazi war criminals and for the release of Jews from the former Soviet Union.
Mr. Kahane left the JDL in the 1980s. He was assassinated in New York in 1990. El Sayyid Nosair, 36, an Egyptian-born Muslim, was convicted in connection with the shooting.


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