Federal agents arrested two men Wednesday night on a seven-count complaint alleging they intended to launch an attack on a military processing office in Seattle with guns and grenades.
Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, 33, of Seattle, and Walli Mujahid, 32, of Los Angeles, were arrested after they allegedly took possession of assault rifles that they planned to use in an attack on the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) on Seattle's East Marginal Way.
The defendants initially planned an attack on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but later changed targets. The defendants intended to carry out their attack with both grenades and assault rifles.
Law enforcement began monitoring Abdul-Latif (aka Joseph Anthony Davis) and Mujahidh (aka Frederick Domingue, Jr.) on June 6, after being tipped off by a confidential source.
The informant, who has a criminal record, was approached by Abdul-Latif as a recruit to join the plot and supply weapons to the conspirators, according to charging papers.
At the suggestion of the FBI, the source agreed to join the conspiracy and began recording all of his or her conversations with the other conspirators.
Authorities said the conspirators were captured repeatedly on audio and videotape discussing a violent assault on the Military Entrance Processing Station. The MEPS is where each branch of the military screens and processes enlistees. In addition to housing many civilian and military employees, the building houses a federal day-care center.
Abdul-Latif explained his reasons for the attack in a recorded conversation, talking about his anger over the U.S. military's activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. He also told the source that killing American soldiers was justifiable, according to charging papers.
The conspirators spent several days planning and debating the attack, and changed their target from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to the Marginal Way MEPS.
On June 8, the source and Abdul-Latif drove to the MEPS to conduct surveillance. During this trip, Abdul-Latif told the source that he was worried that Mujahidh might "go off and kill innocent people" without his medication.
On June 14, the source met with Abdul-Latif to show him different types of assault weapons that could be used during the attack.
On June 16-17, Abdul-Latif gave the source $800 for three M-16 assault rifles.
Earlier this week, Mujahidh traveled to Seattle from Los Angeles by bus. Abdul-Latif and the source met Mujahidh at the bus station and continued to discuss the plans for the attack over the next few days.
"The key thing to remember here is, we are not targeting anybody innocent -- that means old people, women out of uniform, any children. Anything. Just people who wear the green for the kaffir Army, that's who we're going after," Abdul-Latif said to Mujahidh and the source during a recorded conversation about planning the attack.
On Wednesday, Abdul-Latif, Mujahidh and the source drove to a Seattle warehouse together to collect the weapons the source had supposedly ordered from his or her weapons contact. In reality, the weapons were provided by the FBI and had been rendered inoperable. After the suspects had been inside the warehouse for several minutes, examining the weapons, FBI agents entered the warehouse and arrested the suspects.
"When the weapons were provided for the exchange yesterday, right before the arrest, they were given assault rifles with that had been rendered inoperable along with unloaded magazines that were empty," said Ayn Sandalo-Dietrich, Seattle FBI spokeswoman. "The garage where the meet-up took place between our source and the subject was equipped with video and audio recorders so we were aware of their activities the whole time and we had FBI agents ready to perform the arrests.”
“This is a sobering reminder of our need to be vigilant and that our first line of defense is the people who live in our community," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in Seattle. "We were able to disrupt the plot because someone stepped forward and reported it to authorities. I commend the joint efforts of the FBI, the Seattle Police Department, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force who quickly recognized the seriousness of the threat and ensured the safety of the community.”
"This is one of a number of recent plots targeting our military here at home,” said Todd Hinnen, acting assistant attorney general for national security. “The threat was averted by the combined efforts of the federal, state and local law enforcement officers that make up the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
“This case epitomizes the value and capabilities of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force concept as a means of preventing acts of terrorism," said Laura Laughlin, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Seattle Division. "But for the courage of the cooperating witness, and the efforts of multiple agencies working long and intense hours, the subjects might have been able to carry out their brutal plan.”
“This attack was foiled because of the trust and relationships the men and women of the Seattle Police Department enjoy with our community,” said Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. “The
complainant felt safe approaching a Seattle Police Detective and, in doing so, ended the plot
intended to take innocent lives. This cooperative investigation involving local, state, and federal partners worked exactly as intended.”
Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were charged with conspiracy to murder officers and employees of the United States, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (grenades), and possession of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence. Abdul-Latif is also charged with two counts of illegal possession of firearms.
Both Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh face potential sentences of life in prison if convicted of the charges.
According to charging papers, Abul-Latif has been convicted of two prior felonies for first-degree robbery and custodial assault. He served in the Navy in the late 1990s.