- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2005

The FBI is investigating the killing of a Jewish Defense League leader in a federal prison who had been convicted of conspiring to bomb a mosque and a California congressman’s office.

Earl L. Krugel, 62, of Reseda, Calif., was pronounced dead Friday at the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix. His widow, Lola, said the FBI told her that Krugel was hit from behind by another inmate with a concrete block.

Sentenced in September to 20 years, Krugel had been at the medium-security prison for three days when the attack occurred.

“Earl never saw it happening,” Mrs. Krugel said. “He was supposed to call me on Friday morning. When I didn’t hear from him, I felt something was not right.”

Krugel’s former attorney, Mark Werksman, said the JDL leader had received death threats and needed additional protection. Mr. Werksman also questioned why Krugel had been transferred to the Arizona prison after being held in protective custody at Los Angeles’ federal Metropolitan Detention Center since his 2001 arrest.

“There were death threats against him precisely because he was a militant Jewish activist,” he said. “So he always had to be … guarded in federal custody in L.A.”

FBI spokesman Richard Murray in Phoenix said the bureau has opened a homicide investigation into the death, but declined to elaborate. No suspects have been identified.

Krugel and another JDL leader, Irv Rubin, were arrested in December 2001 on charges of conspiring to blow up the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, Calif., the Muslim Public Affairs Council offices in Los Angeles and the San Diego-area office of Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican.

Krugel and Rubin were taken into custody by the Justice Department’s anti-terrorism task force in Los Angeles after an informant reportedly told investigators about the plot. The government said in a criminal complaint that Krugel told associates at the time that Arabs “need a wake-up call.”

Prosecutors said the bombing plot had developed to the point that explosive powder had been delivered to Krugel’s house.

Rubin died in 2002 from injuries sustained in what federal authorities said was a jailhouse suicide attempt while awaiting trial. They said he slashed his throat with a razor and then fell 15 feet off a balcony.

Krugel pleaded guilty in 2003 to one count of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of worshippers at a mosque and one count of carrying an explosive device in connection with a conspiracy to impede or injure an office of the United States.

The JDL, which says it has 13,000 members, was founded in 1968 in New York by Rabbi Meir Kahane as an armed response to anti-Semitism. Mr. Kahane, who left the JDL in the 1980s, was assassinated in New York in 1990. El Sayyid Nosair, an Egyptian-born Muslim, was convicted in connection with the shooting.

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