The lead defendant in a plot to kill soldiers and government workers at a Seattle Department of Defense facility has pleaded guilty.
Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif pleaded guilty Thursday to related charges in a plea deal that will spare him a life sentence while ensuring he spends nearly two decades in prison. Abdul-Latif and another man were charged with terrorism-related counts in U.S. District Court after a Seattle Police-FBI sting operation saw them nabbed; both have now pleaded guilty.
Jailed since June 2011, Abdul-Latif was preparing to attack the Military Entrance Processing Station on East Marginal Way South. He had been charged with conspiracy to murder government employees and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, and pleaded guilty to those counts Thursday.
According to prosecutors, Abdul-Latif, a 35-year-old SeaTac resident, and Los Angeles resident Walli Mujahidh planned to storm the center alongside the informant. Once inside, the three were to open fire with automatic weapons and grenades.
The unlikely hero in the federal prosecution was a Seattle rapist who went to police after Abdul-Latif approached him about the attack. The man ultimately spent weeks working with police and recording conversations with the conspirators, and was paid about $90,000 for potentially dangerous work.
More than most law-abiding Americans earn in a year or two.
Having pleaded guilty, Abdul-Latif faces 17 to 19 years in federal prison. He is slated to be sentenced in March.
Thursday’s plea comes as prosecutors and defense were preparing to square off regarding a Seattle Police detective’s deletion of hundreds of text messages the detective exchanged with the informant. Attorneys for Abdul-Latif had suggested the text messages would have bolstered their claims that their client was entrapped by investigators; two assistant U.S. attorneys on the case took the unusual step of being interviewed by the defense about those text messages.
As it turned out, the legal wrangling over that issue and secret evidence gathered by the FBI on Abdul-Latif was all for naught. Abdul-Latif’s plea ended the prosecution.
“This defendant plotted to kill American servicemen and women, and other innocent people in furtherance of his extremist views,” U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a statement Thursday. “The continued vigilance of the community and the work of law enforcement ensured that we were able to successfully disrupt his deadly plan and bring Mr. Abdul-Latif to justice.
“My thanks go again to the many leaders of the Muslim community who have worked tirelessly with my office to make clear that acts of a few extremists cannot and should not be used to condemn the faith of the many.”
Really? That’s it? How about them condemning the Koran and their Prophet Muhammad who condemned Muslims who fail to wage jihad against unbelievers?
Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were arrested June 22, 2011, three weeks after the informant went to Seattle police and claimed Abdul-Latif was scheming to kill Western Washington soldiers. Weeks before, a child molester and rapist went to police after Abdul-Latif came to him with a plan to attack Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The informant contacted Seattle detectives on June 3, 2011, and said he’d met with Abdul-Latif four days prior. He then began to divulge details of the purported plot.
On May 30, 2011, the informant dined with Abdul-Latif and his family. The informant told police Abdul-Latif first proposed an attack on Joint Base Lewis-McChord during that dinner.
The men first met several years before. Like Abdul-Latif, a failed janitor and ex-con, the informant adopted a Muslim name in recent years; it is currently listed as an alias on his sex offender registration.
The hero is a sex offending rapist, like his new Prophet Muhammad.
According to charging documents, though, the informant did not share Abdul-Latif’s views or desire to turn to violence.
“Abdul-Latif said that ‘jihad’ in America should be a ‘physical jihad,’ and not just ‘media jihad,’ expressing his view that it was necessary to take action rather than just talk,” an FBI agent told the court. “Abdul-Latif referred to the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, when a single gunman killed 13 people … (and) said that if one person could kill so many people, three attackers could kill many more.”
The man worked with Seattle detectives and ultimately the FBI to record several meetings with Abdul-Latif, during which the attack plan shifted to the South Seattle military induction center. Acting under police direction, the man arranged to sell several guns to Abdul-Latif prior to Abdul-Latif’s arrest.
Writing the court, the FBI agent said Abdul-Latif was recorded expressing his anger about United States activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen, saying that he believed killing American soldiers was justified.
Following that meeting, the man called a friend who was working for the Seattle Police Department and reported Abdul-Latif’s proposal. That conversation led to a meeting with Seattle detectives and, ultimately, the informant’s induction into the department’s rolls of confidential sources.
Police instructed the newly minted informant not to record his conversations with Abdul-Latif, but the man apparently did anyway. At the same time, his handlers at Seattle Police continued to guide his efforts.
“If it goes as planned, this will be very beneficial to you and us,” one detective told the informant by text message. “We will make (it) very worth it to you. Thanks dude.”
In early June, Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh spoke with the informant, offering details on the planned attack. They met outside the recruiting station and conducted reconnaissance inside the center.
Despite a short stint in the Navy, Abdul-Latif knew little about firearms but believed the informant could assist him in acquiring automatic weapons.
“Abdul-Latif told the source that he wanted to acquire, for use in the attack, AK-47 assault rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade, grenades, and bulletproof vests,” the FBI agent told the court. Abdul-Latif told Mujahidh and the informant their objective was to “take out anybody wearing green or a badge.”
Law enforcement provided the informant with disabled weapons – a Heckler & Koch submachine gun, an M-16-style rifle and a fragmentation grenade – prior to a June 14 meeting.
In the days that followed, Abdul-Latif provided the informant with money to buy the weapons, the FBI agent continued. Mujahidh arrived in Seattle two days before his arrest.
Planning continued through the evening of June 22, when the guns were delivered and the plotters were arrested at a Seattle warehouse, the FBI agent alleged. Mujahidh pleaded guilty in December and may testify against Abdul-Latif if the case goes to trial.
Court documents also indicate Abdul-Latif caught the FBI’s attention months before the informant came forward.
Abdul-Latif appears to have been the target of a wiretap warrant obtained through a secret federal court operating under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, better known as FISA.
Interesting. So he was under surveillance BEFORE the rapist/Muslim informant was introduced to him. All praise be to the Muslim community though.
The defense has asked U.S. District Judge James Robart to bar the informant from testifying against their client at trial. They also asked that Robart tell any future jury to assume the destroyed text messages favored the defense version of events.
With Thursday’s guilty plea, though, all that’s left is for the two men to be sentenced. Robart is scheduled to sentence both early next year.
Seattle’s FBI Special Agent-in Charge Laura M. Laughlin praised the region’s Muslim community for assisting in the investigation of Abdul-Latif, an apparent convert to the faith born Joseph A. Davis. Laughlin described combatting terrorism as the FBI’s “highest priority,” and said the investigation’s success hinged on the work of the bureau’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Seattle Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Seattle Police Chief John Diaz struck a similar note, saying the prosecution “showcases the excellent working relationship we have with our federal partners and sends a strong signal to society’s enemies that we will continue to combine our efforts in both enforcement and prosecution to bring them to justice and hold them accountable.”
Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh both remain jailed at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.
He’s still got a youtube account too.
Related posts on the Seattle jihadis here.