Newly unsealed court documents
reveal new details about a plot to attack a military recruiting center in Seattle. Items seized by federal investigators from the home of accused lead conspirator Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif include plans to attack a U.S. military facility and motivational materials related to alleged atrocities committed by American soldiers overseas.
The attack on the Seattle military installation is yet another example of a terrorist plot in which American military personnel in the United States have been targeted by Islamist radicals opposed to U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. In each case, the perceived oppression of Muslims by U.S. forces overseas and the belief that Islam is under attack from the West has been the primary motivation behind the plots.
Among the recent cases is the 2009 Fort Hood massacre carried out by Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, the killing of an Army recruiter in Little Rock, Ark., earlier that year by a convert to Islam who described his actions as "a jihadi attack on infidel forces," and a Maryland man who hoped to attack a recruiting office.
Last month, Abdul-Latif (aka Joseph Anthony Davis) of Seattle and coconspirator Walli Mujahidh (aka Fredrick Domigue Jr.) of Los Angeles were arrested and charged with planning to use grenades and machine guns in an assault on the Seattle Military Entrance Processing Center (MEPS). The center recruits prospective candidates to the U.S. military, some of whom are subsequently deployed overseas.
Another person recruited by Abdul-Latif to join the conspiracy reported the plot to the FBI and became a paid informant. The informant promised to help obtain weapons for the attack.
In secretly-recorded conversations, Abdul-Latif said that their attack would "deter" individuals from joining the military and inspire other Muslims to carry out similar attacks.
"Imagine how many young Muslims, if we're successful, will try to hit these kinds of centers. Imagine how fearful America will be and they'll know they can't push Muslims around," Abdul-Latif said.
Abdul-Latif criticized the U.S. military for "invading our lands … stealing our resources … locking up our brothers and sisters, you're raping our sisters in Guantanamo Bay."
Abdul-Latif also confided in the government informant that he wanted to die a martyr in the attack. If that happened, his son would be proud he died fighting the "non-believers." He said he admired Osama bin Laden and argued that jihad in America should not just be a "media jihad" but also a "physical jihad."
The initial target for the attack was the Joint Base Lewis-McChord ("Fort Lewis") in Tacoma, Wash. Abdul-Latif talked to the informant about ongoing military proceedings for suspected crimes in Afghanistan by soldiers posted at Fort Lewis. He said he did not trust the legal system with providing justice for the alleged crimes.
Prosecutors say the defendants wanted to drive a "truck that looks like the Titanic" through the base's "front gate." The truck was described as a 'battering ram' that would "guard" the plotters while they carried out their "duties" (a reference to the attack). Abdul-Latif declared the "objective" of the attack was to "take out anybody wearing green or a badge."
But then the group switched plans, forgoing attacking Fort Lewis to target the facility in Seattle. Abdul-Latif served briefly with the U.S. Navy in the mid-1990s and explained to the government informant the strategic advantages: "It's a confined space, not a lot of people carrying weapons and we'd have an advantage."
"The U.S. is leading the war against terrorism which in reality is a war against Islam," Awlaki said in an online posting. "Its army is directly invading two Muslim countries and indirectly occupying the rest through its stooges." Hasan has been alleged to have been radicalized by Awlaki's teachings.
Law enforcement officials consider the portrayal of the war on terror as an attack on Islam to be one of the most effective messages in radicalizing young Muslims.
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