(WASHINGTON) -- In the latest planned assault on a U.S. military installation -- at least the eighth such conspiracy in the past two years -- two Islamic converts have been arrested for allegedly plotting a Fort Hood-style attack on a Seattle center for new military recruits.
The alleged ringleader of the plot, 33-year-old Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a convicted felon once known as Joseph Davis, has posted a number of videos on-line attacking the U.S. military, as well as comments praising al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been linked to accused Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. According to the FBI, Abdul-Latif and accused co-conspirator Walli Mujahidh, formerly Frederick Domingue, sought to determine "how they could kill the most military personnel and escape or die as martyrs" during a planned July 5 assault on the Military Entrance Processing Station.
The men discussed using "fragmentation grenades" in the facility's cafeteria as a way of maximizing casualties, say authorities, and were arrested after they allegedly purchased automatic weapons from an informant for the planned attack.
There have been at least eight attacks or alleged plots against military installations since 2009, including the November 2009 Fort Hood massacre, in which 13 people died at the Texas Army base. Palestinian-American Army Major Nidal Hasan, who had exchanged emails about jihad with Anwar al-Awlaki, is currently awaiting trial on multiple counts of murder and attempted murder.
Just this week, Marine Reservist Yonathan Melaku was charged with shooting at military sites, including the Pentagon, after he was arrested in Arlington National Cemetery with a backpack full of inert ammonium nitrate. Melaku allegedly videotaped himself shouting "Allahu Akbar" while shooting at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico and had a list of bomb-making materials in his home.
The FBI say Abdul-Latif hoped the attack on the Seattle processing center would inspire other Muslims to carry out similar assaults on enlistment centers. According to the criminal complaint filed Thursday, Mujahidh told FBI agents that he wanted to die a martyr, and said the purpose of the attack was to kill U.S. military personnel so they could not be deployed to Islamic lands.
Abdul-Latif referred admiringly to the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, according to a confidential informant who is quoted in the criminal complaint. Abdul-Latif allegedly said that "if one person could kill so many people, three attackers could kill many more" and that if he was killed in his own attack, his son would be proud he had fought the "non-believers."
The top video in a YouTube account apparently maintained by Abdul-Latif is an English-language message by Anwar al-Awlaki called "Why the World Hates America." On a CNN report about Awlaki posted to YouTube, Abdul-Latif posted a comment praising the radical Yemeni-American cleric. "May Allah protect the Sheik Anwar Al-Awlaki, and the Mujahideen fighting the Jihad according to Quran," the post read.
On a video of an Awlaki sermon, he posted a comment praising Awlaki and seeming to praise accused Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. "May Allah bless Anwar al-Awlaki," he wrote. "And hopefully there will be more soldiers who come out of the woodwork to serve Allah."
In one of his own videos posted on YouTube, Abdul-Latif urges Muslims to make jihad and says they must stop compromising with "kaffirs" -- non-Muslim infidels.
"We must establish Jihad. I don't care what anyone says about that. You can turn me into the FBI, whatever. We need to establish Jihad with the heart, the tongue, and the hand. We need to stop trying to compromise with the Kuffar and stop trying to be their friends because they hate us," he says.
In another, he blasts the U.S. for alleged atrocities in Islamic countries, saying, "There are even United States military soldiers who are over there raping women and killing Muslims and are not being held accountable for it."
Officials say Abdul-Latif served briefly in the U.S. Navy in 1995. He has at least two felony convictions: robbery in the first degree in 2002 and assault a year later while serving time in Washington state for the robbery. Walli Mujahidh, a 32-year-old from Los Angeles, has no known felony convictions.
Former FBI Counterterrorism Chief Bob Blitzer told ABC News that Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh seemed to fit more in the "lone wolf category" than to be part of a substantial terror cell. But he said that law enforcement is now on the lookout for lone wolves, and the alleged plot was "pretty darned serious."
"It's pretty obvious we're at war," said Blitzer, "and these people view our military as the enemy, as the arm of the U.S. government that is attacking their people abroad and killing them. And so it's logical that they would be a huge target of folks like this."
The suspects appeared in federal court late Thursday to hear charges against them, and were ordered held without bail. A detention hearing is set for next Wednesday.
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