Fil-Am, 3 other US men charged in alleged terror plot


LOS ANGELES–Filipino-American Ralph Deleon and two other California men was excited at the prospect of training in Afghanistan to become terrorists.

Just two days before they were going to board a plane bound for Istanbul — and then onto Afghanistan — FBI agents thwarted plans that officials said included killing Americans and bombing US military bases overseas.

The arrests last week in the US and of the man said to be the ringleader, 34-year-old American Sohiel Omar Kabir, in Afghanistan was laid out in a 77-page affidavit, which included references to the group’s online video conversations and audio recordings.

While authorities don’t believe there were any plans for an attack in the US, two of the men arrested told a confidential FBI informant they would consider American jihad, according to the court documents unsealed in federal court Monday.

The arrests are the latest in a series of cases where US residents were targeted to become terrorists. Last month, a man was convicted of helping send young men to Somalia to join the al-Qaida-linked terrorist group al-Shabab.

Along with Kabir and Deleon, Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales and Arifeen David Gojali are facing charges of providing material support to terrorists. The charges can carry a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

Deleon, 23, was born in the Philippines, while Santana, 21, was born in Mexico. Both are lawful, permanent US residents.

Defense attorneys did not immediately return calls for comment.

Federal investigators said Kabir met Deleon and Santana at a hookah bar and introduced them to the radical Islamist doctrine of the US-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last year in an American airstrike in Yemen.

Kabir, a naturalized US citizen from Afghanistan, served in the Air Force from 2000 to 2001 at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, pulling aircraft or vehicle parts from a supply store. He was administratively separated for unknown reasons and was given an honorable discharge, the military said.

According to the court documents, Deleon said meeting Kabir was like encountering someone from the camps run by al-Awlaki or Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US raid last year on his compound in Pakistan.

Kabir was “basically a mujahid walking the streets of LA,” Deleon said, using the term for holy warrior, according to court documents. “He was just waiting to get his papers. And I met him at the point of his life where he was about to go.”

Authorities wouldn’t say how the investigation began, but they tracked Kabir’s travels last year and flagged violent extremist messages posted online by Santana. Covert FBI agents had conversations with Santana online where he expressed his support of jihad and desire to join al-Qaida.

“We were on them for quite a while,” said FBI Special Agent David Bowdich.

In video calls from Afghanistan, Kabir told the trio he would arrange their meetings with terrorists, investigators said. Kabir added they could sleep in mosques or the homes of other jihadists once they arrived in Afghanistan.

Stateside, Deleon and Santana were eager about the prospects of being terrorists. When asked by the FBI informant if both men had thought about how it would feel to kill someone, Santana responded, “The more I think about it, the more it excites me.”

The two men also discussed where they could do the most damage. After considering going to Palestine and the Philippines, Santana said he preferred Afghanistan because the military bases there could easily be ambushed.

Santana said he was easily influenced by people growing up and spent time around gangs. He said converting to Islam was a good move for him because he could fit in and “actually fight for something that’s right,” according to court documents.

Jen Collins, who lives two doors down from Santana’s apartment in Upland, east of Los Angeles, said at least a dozen FBI agents swarmed his unit early Friday. “It was like something coming out of the movies or TV,” Collins said.

The apartment was shuttered on Tuesday, but someone inside removed a sign that read “Don’t burn the Qur’an, READ IT!” from a shuttered upstairs window as reporters gathered outside.

Court documents show the men talked about their propensity for violence.

Santana, who claimed he went to Mexico to learn how to shoot different kinds of guns and how to make explosives, wanted to be a sniper. Deleon said he hoped he could be on the front lines or use C-4, an explosive, in an attack.

Gojali, a US citizen, was recruited in late September and he said he would be willing to kill, court documents state.

“I watch videos on the Internet, and I see what they are doing to our brothers and sisters. … It makes me cry, and it gets like I’m, like, so angered with them,” Gojali said.

This past summer, plans to travel to Afghanistan became clearer for the group.

They talked about how they would avoid detection. They talked about opening an Afghan orphanage or possibly posing as cologne salesmen. They finally devised a cover story that they were going to attend Kabir’s fictional wedding.

It’s unclear whether Kabir actually made contact with Taliban or al-Qaida fighters, but in an August video conversation with Deleon, Kabir was with a shiekh or an imam, the complaint said.

Kabir also had intended to go on a suicide mission earlier this month but got sick, according to the court documents. He indicated he would wait for the group, which included the FBI informant, before staging an attack, according to the affidavit.

Before going, Deleon said he was going to leave parents a farewell letter. Asked by the informant if Deleon could lie about his true intentions in the letter, Deleon said, it’s OK to lie in war. “I believe right now … we are in a state of war,” he said.

Using the informant’s debit card, Deleon bought four tickets for a flight from Mexico City to Istanbul scheduled to leave this past Sunday. Had the men made it to Afghanistan, they would have initially joined the Taliban and then graduate to al-Qaida, Bowdich said.

“They saw this as jihad. They saw this as their way to push out the aggressors,” Bowdich said.

Even if he failed in a terrorist training camp, Santana said, he would continue trying.

“If for some weird reason, if I can’t handle it, I’m not going to give up,” he said, according to court documents. “Like, because, this is my strong intention. This is what I desire of doing in this life.”

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Juan_Sipag08

    Desire in life is to kill? These people has misinterpreted the Quran. Because of that intention muslims became evil in the eyes of those who did not belong to islam.

  • Spike

    T a NGA  Bobong pilipino

  • Spike

    Muslims should never be trusted  – they use their mosques to meet and discuss terrorism plans. Giving autonomy to mindanao is a mistake

    Pnoy is a weak leader and we will pay the price in the future

    • Alexander Aamproz

      He ! 
      Wake up, 
      there is no limit’s in the Clergy Hypocrisies and greed, acting like gang’s partners,
      did you already forget the criminal’s “elites” dancing since ever with
      the corrupt and masse murders war lords, and President’s.

      During Arroyo time, terrorism was a Palace Organization.
      Divide to rule and a way for General’s
      to get sweeties they can openly steal from the US,
      on purpose of supposed terrorism war.

      Ransom money for Commandant Robot,
      according to German spy satellite,
      went straight on Erap account….
      The Government negotiator A. ,
      went to US on an early retirement, thank’s of the bonus !

      Every where you have good and bad peoples,
      except RP Politic’s and Clergy where honesty is rearer than diamond’s.

  • bugoybanggers

    Kaya nga maraming nagpapaCONVERT to MUSLIM (religion ng TAO), hindi ISLAM (peace). Para maipakita na kamo MATAPANG sila at SIKAT! Marami diyang mga dating KRISTIANONG DUWAG na nag paMUSLIM para mapagtakpan ang kanilang KADUWAGAN sa ISIP at sa SALITA. Naway dumami pa kayo at ipa BALIK MUSLIM daw!

  • TruthHurts116

    Jail time for them, deport their families to their country of origin, including cousins, aunts, uncles and children.

    The price needs to be set to where no family can enjoy the privileges  of living in America, if anyone in their family seeks to kill fellow citiizens and/or destroy American way of life.

    Forget fairness, this is war!

    • bugoybanggers

      Boy, botante sila ni OBAMA. Malabo yan. Kung si Pareng Mit ang nanalo baka wala na sila sa inyo. Pero sa amin itong si Deleon eh baka maging artista pa at pagkatapos tatakbo bilang MAYOR ng MANILA. Kasi ang mga PILIPINO mahilig sa sikat.

    • Alexander Aamproz

      Your receipt should be applied to the Trapos.

      US are not anymore a Wild West country,

      forget about 

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