LOS ANGELES: A 34-year-old Muslim convert who planned to attack a US military recruiting center with grenades and machine guns in revenge for alleged US war crimes was jailed for 18 years on Monday.
Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a US citizen, was also sentenced to 10 years of supervised release following his prison term for the 2011 plot, which officials said was foiled due to help from the local Muslim community.
“This defendant planned to attack a military center when there would be the largest possible gathering of new recruits and their families,” said US Attorney Jenny Durkan, after the sentencing as part of a plea deal.
“He targeted young men and women solely because they wanted to serve our country. His goal: to inspire others with a message of hate,” she added, while a prosecution spokeswoman said he wanted publicity for his crime.
Abdul-Latif was angry at US military action in Afghanistan when he plotted to attack the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Seattle.
“His statements indicate he wanted to inspire others by getting his crime on CNN, as retribution for alleged war crimes,” said the spokeswoman, Emily Langlie.
Abdul-Latif, original name Joseph Anthony Davis, pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to murder US federal employees and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. He had faced up to 19 years in prison under a plea deal.
He “planned to use grenades and machine guns to attack recruits” at the base, in south Seattle, in June 2011, said the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.
In December 2011 a co-defendant in the case, 32-year-old Walli Mujahidh, pleaded guilty to plotting the MEPS attack.
Mujahidh, of Los Angeles, is scheduled for sentencing on April 8.
Judge James L. Robart said the plot “could have done incredible harm if it had gone forward.” Police were alerted to the plot when a member of the public claimed to have been approached about participating in the attack and supplying firearms to the conspirators.
Agents began monitoring Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh, recording them on audio and video “discussing a violent assault” on the Seattle military center, where the US military screens and processes are enlisted.
“His plot was disrupted by vigilance in our community and good work by law enforcement,” said Durkan.
Seattle Police Chief John Diaz also lauded the Muslim community’s help. “I am pleased with the outcome of this very important joint agency investigation.
“With support from the Muslim community and the diligent work of Seattle police detectives and our federal partners, a dangerous man will spend a long time behind bars and our community will be safer because of it,” he added.