WATCH IT: Men Wanted To Be Martyrs, Government Says
Prosecutors say two men accused of plotting an attack on a Seattle military processing facility wanted to be martyrs.
Sgt. Clint Conant stands with potential US Army recruits outside a federal building that houses the Military Entrance Processing Station south of Seattle. Two men have been arrested in an alleged plot to use machine guns and grenades in an attack on the military recruiting station there, which also houses a day-care facility.
This 2004 photo, provided by the Washington State Department of Corrections, shows Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, also known as Joseph Anthony Davis, of Seattle. Mr. Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh, also known as Frederick Domingue Jr., of Los Angeles, were arrested Wednesday night when they arrived at a warehouse to pick up machine guns to use in an alleged terror plot.
Department of Corrections/AP
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The use of informants and sting operations has become a major tool in the fight against domestic terrorism, illustrated in the arrest of two men charged with plotting an attack on a military facility.
The arrest of terror suspects in Seattle this week presents a good example of what US law-enforcement agencies are facing today:
• One or two potential attackers not affiliated with any broader group.
• Emotional, psychological, and perhaps personal economic difficulties driving a plot to attack Americans.
• “Soft targets” picked for maximum damage to innocent victims.
• The importance of paid informants and sting operations.
“Our review of attempted attacks during the past two years suggests that lone offenders currently present the greatest threat,” according to a recent assessment by federal agencies, marked “for official use only” and obtained by The Associated Press. “Unlike hardened facilities such as active duty military bases and installations, soft targets such as recruiting stations are more likely to be deemed a feasible target due to their easy, open access to the public.”
That appears to describe the episode in Seattle this week.
Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, also known as Joseph Anthony Davis, of Seattle, and Walli Mujahidh, also known as Frederick Domingue Jr., of Los Angeles, were arrested Wednesday night when they arrived at a warehouse to pick up machine guns they intended to use in an alleged terror plot.
The alleged plotters – both US citizens who had converted to Islam – had sought firearms through an acquaintance of Mr. Abdul-Latif’s. That man, a convicted felon, alerted the Seattle Police Department, which put him in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to conversations recorded by the paid informant, Abdul-Latif and Mr. Mujahidh were inspired by the Fort Hood shootings, which killed 13 people in 2009. In that case, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist, apparently acted alone using his personal military weapons.
“If one person [at Fort Hood] could kill so many people, three attackers could kill many more,” the informant told authorities, according to the criminal complaint.
Over the next three weeks, the informant secretly recorded conversations in which Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh allegedly spoke of wanting to attack service personnel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, an Army and Air Force base south of Tacoma. Several US Army soldiers based there are being prosecuted for allegedly killing civilians for sport in Afghanistan.
Yet the alleged plot was switched to a location thought to be a softer target – the Military Entrance Processing Station just south of Seattle. Some 900 military personnel and civilians are employed there, many of them working for the US Army Corps of Engineers or processing new military recruits. The campus includes a child-care facility.
“It’s a confined space, not a lot of people carrying weapons, and we’d have an advantage,” Abdul-Latif allegedly said in a recording.