SEATTLE -- Two men have been arrested in a plot to attack a Seattle military recruiting station, reports the U.S. Justice Department and FBI.
Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, who also went by Joseph Anthony Davis, 33, of Seattle, and Walli Mujahidh, also known as Frederick Domingue, Jr., 32, of Los Angeles, will face terrorism and firearms charges for the suspected plot.
The pair were arrested Wednesday night after nearly a month of surveillance and recordings by FBI, with the help of an informant recruited to join the plot. During that time, law enforcement say they learned Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh intended to shoot people enlisting in the armed forces at the Military Entrance Processing Station on East Marginal Way (MEPS).
"Driven by a violent, extreme ideology, these two young Americans are charged with plotting to murder men and women who were enlisting in the Armed Forces to serve and protect our country," said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
Abdul-Latif's wife of six years was shocked by the allegations. Binta Moussa-Davis told KING 5 that her husband never even hinted that he was plotting an attack. The couple has a 3-year-old son.
"He's innocent because I don't think he can do something like this to his son and me," she said. "He loves us."
Abdul-Latif operated a Fresh N' Clean Janitorial Service, which recently filed for bankruptcy, Moussa-Davis said.
Murdering American soldiers is justifiable, said suspect
Before shifting to MEPS as a target, FBI officials said the attack was initially planned for Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Abdul-Latif said he and Mujahidh would drive a van through the gates of Fort Lewis and open fire. Abdul-Latif said the specific target was soldiers and not civilians, according to agents.
Mujahidh was described as the driver for the attack, the FBI said, suggested to occur on July 5, 2011.
According to the FBI, Abdul-Latif was outwardly angry about the current United States military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even in Yemen. Charging documents show Abdul-Latif believed "murdering American soldiers was justifiable."
FBI officials said Abdul-Latif "wanted to die as a martyr in the attack."
After further Internet research, the men later decided on MEPS as a target because it was a place where people who "wanted to go to Iraq and Afghanistan" would be, and most of the people there would be unarmed.
"It's a confined space, not a lot of people carrying weapons, and we'd have an advantage," Abdul-Latif said in a recording.
Abdul-Latif believed the attack at the MEPS would inspire other Muslims with similar feelings.
"Imagine how many young Muslims, if we're successful, will try to hit these kind of centers," said Abdul-Latif in a recording. "Imagine how fearful America will be, and they'll know they can't push the Muslims around."
Abdul-Latif: 'We'll just kill him right away'
Police first found out about the plot on June 3 when a citizen alerted a Seattle Police detective, saying he was initially approached about the plot by Abdul-Latif on May 30 at Abdul-Latif's SeaTac apartment.
FBI agents said the informant was recruited because Abdul-Latif believed he held similar beliefs, and that he would be able to get a hold of the weapons needed for the attack. FBI officials said in charging documents that the informant had known Abdul-Latif for several years already, and that Abdul-Latif trusted the informant.
After the initial contact, the informant went to Seattle Police.
"The complainant felt safe approaching a Seattle Police Detective and, in doing so, ended the plot intended to take innocent lives," said Seattle Police Chief John Diaz.
With the help of the informant, law enforcement then began recording the suspects, both on audio and video tape, discussing the plot.
The informant was instructed to learn the layout of the MEPS, and buy machine guns used to carry out the attack, all with the intention of killing military men and women, according to the FBI.
Charging documents show on June 6, Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh as well as the informant spoke on the phone about general aspects of the plot, including the need to get a hold of firearms and even train with them in Wenatchee, Washington, prior to the attack. Documents show during that conversation, Mujahidh assured Abdul-Latif that he was committed to carrying out the plan.
The next day, federal officials say Abdul-Latif told the informant it was time to check out the MEPS location and "make a plan from there."
Abdul-Latif and the informant met together on June 8 to do so, according to the FBI. The pair drove to the MEPS, parked and looked around the property. Peering inside the front doors, Abdul-Latif noted a security guard inside, but said, "We'll just kill him right away...we can kill him first."
On the same day, the informant was instructed by Abdul-Latif to get a hold of machine guns, ammunition, magazines and grenades to use during the attack, charging papers show.
'We're either gonna get killed or end up locked up,' suspect said
During the next week, law enforcement learned Mujahidh made plans to come to Seattle via bus from Los Angeles on June 20.
On June 21, the trio met together to discuss the plotted attack at a restaurant. FBI agents said Abdul-Latif left the restaurant, and the informant and Mujahidh continued the discussion.
The informant, according to FBI recordings, said he was going to do some work on his car sound system if they lived through the attack.
"We're either gonna get killed or end up locked up," said Mujahidh, according to the FBI.
Mujahidh indicated to the informant, based on recordings, that he'd rather carry out the attack at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
"Yeah so we are going in and killing everybody?" he asked the informant on an FBI tape. "I'd rather do Fort Lewis, man."
Mujahidh also told the informant that before leaving Los Angeles, he told people he was going to Seattle on a jihad and that "[the attack] is my way of getting rid of sins, man...I got so many of 'em...I got a bunch of 'em."
Charging documents show Mujahidh even predicted a media headline for the plot: "Three Muslim males walk into MEPS building, Seattle, Washington, and gun down everybody."
'We're not only trying to kill people, we're trying to send a message'
After further discussion, Mujahidh and the informant joined back up with Abdul-Latif at his SeaTac apartment. There, they discussed further aspects of the plot, and even considered buying rocket-propelled grenades for the attack.
Again, recordings show the trio discussed military involvement in the Middle East as the fuel for the attack.
"We're not only trying to kill people, we're trying to send a message" said Abdul-Latif. "We're trying to get something that's gonna be on CNN and all over the world."
Several times, backing out of the plan was brought up, and what to do if anyone was caught by law enforcement.
"If any of us gets caught, and we survive...don't' ever say anything to the police..." said Abdul-Latif. "We have to promise, if any of us gets caught or thrown in jail for any reason before this happens, if they offer you a deal to talk, don't talk."
Arrests made by FBI at Seattle warehouse
On Wednesday, June 22, both Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh and the informant went to a warehouse in Seattle, where the informant said they could pick up their machine guns he purchased.
The warehouse, at an undisclosed location, was equipped by FBI with audio and visual recording devices.
Inside the warehouse, the suspects inspected the weapons, holding them and discussing their features, FBI reported.
Abdul-Latif instructed the weapons were to be taken to a place in Burien at "First and Burien," prompting FBI and law enforcement to enter the warehouse and place Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh under arrest.
Charging documents show Mujahidh admitted to plotting to kill soldiers, and carry out the attacks with guns and grenades. He also asked agents how long they had known about the plot. Abdul-Latif, however, made no statements.
The FBI acknowledged that the informant does have an extensive criminal history, including five felony convictions, but has never been convicted of any "crimes of dishonesty."
The FBI spent about five hours searching Abdul-Latif's SeaTac apartment Wednesday night, the suspect's wife told KING 5. They seized several items, including some DVDs. They did not find any weapons in the home, she said.
Mujahidh had been staying at that apartment since arriving from California this week.
Arsenal of weapons acquired by terror suspects
Over the course of a month of planning, FBI officials said neither men knew the guns they purchased were inoperable, posing no public safety risk.
Among the weapons the men possessed were a Heckler & Koch MP5 9x19 mm caliber sub-machine gun and Colt M16A2 Commando 5.56 mm caliber assault rifles, charging documents show.
Official charges carry life sentences
Officially, Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh are charged by complaint with:
- conspiracy to murder officers and employees of the United States
- conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (grenades)
- possession of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence.
Additionally, Abdul-Latif is charged with two counts of illegal possession of firearms.
Both men face life in prison if convicted of the charges.