February 6, 2003
L.A. Police Chief Visits Israel
Los Angeles Chief of Police William Bratton (pictured with Tsion Ben David of the Israel Ministry of Tourism) placed a prayer in the Western Wall of the Old City during a recent visit to Israel. It was his first visit since 1986.
"It's so moving to return here once again," Bratton said. "This is a place that everyone should come to see. It's a shame that not more people are here. I feel very comfortable, very safe and very welcome." – Staff Report
JDL's Krugel Pleads Guilty on Two Counts
Earl Krugel, a leader of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), pleaded guilty Tuesday, Feb. 4, to two federal charges stemming from a plot to bomb a mosque and the office of a congressman of Lebanese descent.
Specifically, Krugel entered guilty pleas to one count of conspiring with late JDL National Chairman Irv Rubin to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, for the purpose of preventing congregants from using their house of worship; and to a second count of carrying an explosive for bombing the office of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista).
The second count carries a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison, and the first count could add another 10 years. Krugel's attorney, Mark Werksman, believes his client will receive a total of 12 years when sentence is pronounced by U.S. District Judge S.W. Lew on May 19.
If the 60-year-old Krugel had faced a trial and been convicted, he would have been subject to a mandatory 40-year sentence.
"Earl is relieved that the matter is behind him," Werksman said. "He didn't want to plead guilty, but the political climate today is not hospitable for defending a domestic terrorist case."
Rubin, Krugel's alleged co-conspirator, died last November at a federal detention center, according to prison authorities. Rubin's family has filed a $5 million wrongful-death claim against the U.S. government.
Both men were arrested in December 2001, after a third participant reported the plot to the FBI. Werksman said that Rubin's death had "knocked the wind out of Krugel."
However, outside the downtown courthouse, Rubin's wife and son, joined by other supporters, held up signs denouncing Krugel as a "rat" for implicating Rubin in the plot. The JDL Web site charged that Krugel had "falsely accused Rubin of directing the conspiracy."
Krugel, though standing in the shadow of the high-profile and articulate Rubin, was a familiar figure at street demonstrations, served in the Navy and worked as a dental assistant. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement, "As this successful prosecution makes clear, acts of terror targeted at individuals because of their race, religion or national origin will not be tolerated in the United States."
– Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Last of 'Shiraz 13' on 'Vacation'
The last five Iranian Jews still held in an Iranian prison have been released on "vacation," although it remains uncertain whether they will be permanently freed.
The five were among 13 Jews arrested in early 1999 for allegedly spying for Israel and the United States and later tried in the southern city of Shiraz.
In a case that drew worldwide attention and condemnation, 10 of the 13 received prison sentences, but five of the imprisoned 10 were released after serving some of their time.
The "vacation" for the last five was granted in honor of the "Ten Days of Fajr," celebrating the overthrow by the Islamic revolution of the Shah of Iran, according to two government-controlled Iranian newspapers cited by Pooya Dayanim, president of the newly formed Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee in Los Angeles.
The news was confirmed by Maurice Motamed, the sole Jewish representative in the Iranian parliament, who is in Los Angeles on an extended family visit.
Motamed said that the five Jews were furloughed about 10 days ago and that he hoped that the release would be a permanent one.
Other sources urged caution in commenting on the new development.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who has been involved with the "Shiraz 13" case from the beginning, warned that public comment might endanger the future of the five Jews.
"I hope and pray that their release will be permanent, but as of now I think the 'vacation' is a kind of test [by the Iranian government]," Hoenlein said.
Sam Kermanian, secretary general of the Iranian American Jewish Federation in Los Angeles, said, "At this point, we do not wish to make any comment."
Beyond the confirmed news of the "vacation," an interpretation of this development is complicated by apparent personal and ideological animosities among the principal Iranian Jewish spokesmen.
Motamed said that the "vacation" was achieved due to his personal intervention with the Iranian judiciary. Dayanim stated that the government in Tehran made the move to bolster its human rights record before upcoming meetings with the British government and the European Union.
On a more personal level, Motamed claimed that the five Jews would have been released months ago, if Dayanim had not criticized the Iranian judiciary in a Voice of America broadcast.
"I hope the 'vacation' will become permanent, unless there are further attacks on the judiciary," Motamed said.
Dayanim responded that following the release of three others of the imprisoned Jews a few months ago, he had commented that the move was due to international pressure on Tehran.
In a sharper tone, Dayanim described Motamed as a "propaganda tool" of the Iranian Islamic government, adding that it was a mistake to allow him to enter the United States. – TT