September 22, 2005
Washington, DC — A member of the Jewish Defense League was sentenced today to 20 years for his role in a plot to blow up a Los Angeles-area mosque, the office of an Arab-American congressman, and the office of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
Earl Krugel and the militant group’s leader, Irv Rubin, were charged in December 2001 with conspiring in the bomb plot. Rubin died a year later from injuries suffered in what authorities said was a jailhouse suicide attempt.
Under his 2003 plea bargain, Krugel admitted conspiracy to violate the civil rights of worshippers at the King Fahd Mosque and also a weapons count tied to explosives that prosecutors said were meant for the field office of Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA).
Krugel admitted in his plea agreement that he met with a teenage JDL recruit and showed him a list of mosques that were potential targets. He alleged that Rubin, who was present at the meetings, told the recruit to carry out the bombings. Krugel admitted he and Rubin targeted Issa because he is an Arab American. He also acknowledged calling mosques “filthy” and saying Arabs needed a “wake-up call.”
The JDL has been responsible for at least 40 terrorist acts in the United States since its inception in 1968, according to the FBI. Law enforcement officials also said the original target of the foiled plot was MPAC’s Los Angeles office, but it was changed in the days before the planned attack.
The JDL is also suspected in the 1985 murder of Alex Odeh, the Southern California Regional Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). Odeh was killed when a bomb exploded as he entered ADC‘s Santa Ana office The FBI investigation remains open, and there is currently a $1 million reward for information leading to conviction. . However, no arrests have been made.
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At today‘s sentencing Krugel also revealed one name linked to the Odeh investigation that had not been previously known. The judge seriously admonished Krugel for withholding this information and for repeatedly failing polygraph tests.
An interfaith delegation was present at the hearing. The delegation included: Anthony Saidi, Interim President of the ADC Los Angeles Chapter; Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC Executive Director; Rabbi Allan Freehling, Former Rabbi Of University Synagogue; Robin Toma, Executive Director of the L.A. County Human Relations Commission; Rev. Ed Bacon, Pastor of All Saints Church; and Rev. George Regis, Director of the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace. Al-Marayati spoke at the hearing. The following is the full text of Al-Marayati‘s comments at the sentencing hearing:
“I want to thank the court for giving me the opportunity on behalf of the Muslim American community to address you. I would like to appeal to you, your honor, for Earl Krugel to receive the maximum sentence for his crime to harm me, my institution, a mosque and a congressman’s office. Mr. Krugel should be treated like any terrorist, even though there is no mention of this term in the charges against him. My family and my community, the Muslim American community and the Arab American community, have had to live with the fear of being targets of terrorism since the day the FBI informed us of this plot by Earl Krugel and Irv Rubin. We appreciate the FBI‘s diligence in foiling this plot and will continue to work closely with them to prevent terrorism and to ensure that conflicts rooted in the Middle East do not spill over to our neighborhoods in America. To this day, we are living under the shadow of terror as a result of Mr. Krugel‘s actions. For justice to be served, we strongly urge you to consider that the same punishment be levied against him as anyone who plans to target synagogues or churches or any other American houses of worship and their leaders.
“The fear we suffer from today is similar to that felt by the family of Alex Odeh, whose murder from 20 years ago remains an open investigation for the FBI. In October 1985, Alex Odeh was killed by a bomb at the offices of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Orange County. I do not know the terms of the plea agreement with Mr. Krugel. I only hope that he has cooperated in providing information that will help apprehend the culprits of Alex‘s assassination. Because Alex‘s killers remain at large, we continue to live under the threat of terrorism, and we ask you, your honor, to ensure that criminal elements who plan to do harm to any American are put away for good to keep our streets and our homes and our houses of worship safe. I also want to tell you that regardless of what Earl Krugel attempted to do to us, his nefarious plan did not ruin our relations with the Jewish or Christian community. It has actually strengthened it, as is evident by the solidarity of Jewish and Christian leaders with me today. A crime of this magnitude planned by Earl Krugel should receive the maximum punishment allotted by the statute to deter Krugel and those like him from doing more harm to our country.”
September 22, 2005