Irv Rubin, national chairman of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), and a fellow member, have been charged with conspiracy to blow up Arab and Muslim targets in Southern California.
Federal authorities charged at a Wednesday press conference that Rubin, 56, and Earl Krugel, 59, intended to blow up the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, the offices of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in the Mid-Wilshire area, and the offices of Republican Rep. Darrell Issa.
Issa, whose district includes parts of San Diego and Orange counties, is an Arab American of Lebanese descent.
At press time, leading Jewish organizations scheduled a press conference to condemn the alleged plot. In early statements, Jewish organizations, including The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, expressed their horror and revulsion at the alleged JDL plot. "The Jewish community universally condemns acts of terrorism against the Muslim community," ADL Western Region Executive Director David Lehrer told The Journal. At press time, dozens of other Jewish leaders and groups are scheduled to make similar statements at the press conference.
As outlined by U.S. Attorney John Gordon and Ronald Iden of the local FBI office, an informant reported attending a meeting with Rubin and Krugel in October, during which he was asked to participate in the bombings of the alleged targets.
According to the complaint, Krugel commented during the meeting that Arabs "need a wake-up call," while Rubin observed that the JDL needed to let people know that it was "alive in a militant way."
In subsequent meetings, the informant was told to locate and photograph the MPAC offices and to buy some of the bomb components, including pipes and explosive powder.
Last weekend, authorities say, the informant was told by Rubin and Krugel that the targets would be the King Fahd Mosque, rather than Issa's office and the MPAC office.
On Tuesday, the informant allegedly delivered explosive powder, the last component needed to construct pipe bombs, to Krugel's residence.
In the evening, Rubin and Krugel had dinner at Jerry's Deli in Encino, and Rubin was arrested about 9 p.m. while driving to his home in Monrovia. Krugel was arrested at his home in Reseda.
One of Krugel's neighbors reported that law enforcement officers apparently broke down portions of fences and a screen door at Krugel's house and carried away weapons and cardboard boxes.
The neighbor said that a menorah was visible through a window and that there was an American flag on the mailbox.
Peter Morris, Rubin's attorney, said that "Irv Rubin never had anything to do with explosives.... It seems to us that given the timing, the government's action is part of an overreaction to the Sept. 11 events."
Morris's partner, Bryan Altman, indicated that federal authorities wanted to demonstrate their "even-handedness" by balancing terrorist charges against Muslims with similar charges against Jews.
Rubin and Krugel face two counts, conspiracy to destroy a building by means of explosives, and, secondly, possession of a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence. The first count carries a penalty of no less that 30 years in prison, the second a maximum of five years, according to U.S. Attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek.
Rubin, born in Canada but a longtime California resident, was named national chairman of the militant JDL in 1985 by its founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in New York in 1990.
Rubin and the JDL were involved in numerous high-profile confrontations and received extensive media coverage in the 1980s and early 1990s, but in recent years have garnered few headlines. One year ago, Rubin was involved in a successful attempt to ban secular prayers at meetings of the Burbank City Council. As the Journal went to press, Rubin and Krugel were scheduled to appear at an arraignment hearing downtown.