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Jdl member guilty bomb mosque { February 4 2003 }

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JDL member pleads guilty to conspiracy to bomb SoCal mosque
ROBERT JABLON, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, February 4, 2003
2003 Associated Press


(02-04) 15:49 PST LOS ANGELES (AP) --

A member of the Jewish Defense League pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with the leader of the militant group to bomb a local mosque and a congressman's office.

Earl Krugel, 60, of Reseda, his hands cuffed and shackled to his waist, changed his innocent pleas to guilty Tuesday in federal court. The short, bald former dental assistant spoke quietly as he admitted to one count of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of the users of the mosque and one count of carrying an explosive device in connection with a conspiracy to impede or injure an officer of the United States.

Krugel could be sentenced to as many as 20 years in prison and fined up to $500,000 when he is sentenced on May 19.

"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 -- they will be aggressively investigated, swiftly prosecuted and firmly punished," U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said in a statement.

"The FBI is gratified that Mr. Krugel has admitted his guilt in this matter," said Ronald Iden, assistant director in charge of the FBI.

Outside court, Krugel's attorney said the plea agreement was "distasteful" but right because his client "was going to basically die in prison if he went to trial and lost."

"We are facing a political climate where it's difficult to defend alleged actions of domestic terrorism," attorney Mark Werksman said.

In addition, the prosecution had hours of "extremely incriminating" recorded conversations between Krugel, late JDL leader Irv Rubin and a teenager who was an FBI informant, Werksman said.

However, Werksman said Krugel and Rubin were "explicit" in their discussions that only property damage was intended and "nobody was supposed to get hurt."

Had the case gone to trial, the lawyer said he would have argued that Krugel and Rubin were entrapped into making the statements by overzealous FBI agents.

Krugel and Rubin were arrested in 2001 and charged with conspiring to bomb the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City and a field office of Rep. Darrell E. Issa, R-Vista. Issa is a Lebanese-American.

Hours before both men were set to appear in court Nov. 4, Rubin slashed his neck with a prison-issued razor blade and tumbled 18 feet over a railing at the downtown federal Metropolitan Detention Center, according to federal officials. He died nine days later.

Rubin's estate has filed a $5 million wrongful death claim against the U.S. government. His wife, Shelley, said Tuesday that she was shocked by the plea agreement and insisted that her late husband had nothing to do with any bomb plot.

"My husband only did good for people. He only helped people and he stood up against the real haters in this country and around the world," she said.

She alleged that the government set up her husband in an effort to destroy him and denounced the allegations in the plea agreement as lies.

As for Krugel, who had been best man at the Rubins' wedding, she said "he sold my husband's memory down the drain."

"We hope he dies in prison," she added.

A JDL spokesman said Krugel had been dismissed from the group.

In court, the prosecution read the plea agreement, in which Krugel maintains he and Rubin met in late 2001 and discussed bombing Arab institutions in the Los Angeles area.

Krugel called mosques "filthy" and said Arabs needed a "wakeup call," while Rubin suggested bombing Issa's office, the agreement said. It was targeted because the congressman held political views contrary to their own.

Krugel also admitted to storing pipes, fuse and gunpowder for the bombs in his garage, according to the agreement.

Investigators searching his home found books on bomb-making and flyers describing how to "rid the world" of Arabs and practicing Muslims, according to the agreement.

Outside court, prosecutor Gregory W. Jessner denied that the government had entrapped Krugel and Rubin. The informant was a JDL recruit who went to authorities because "he became concerned about what he was being drawn into," Jessner said.

The case shows, Jessner said, that "the U.S. government will work tirelessly to intercede in any sort of terrorist plot."

2003 Associated Press

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