A federal grand jury has indicted two men on nine conspiracy and weapons-related charges in connection with an alleged plan to carry out a terrorist attack on a military processing station in Seattle.
Two men accused of conspiring to attack a military processing station in Seattle with grenades and automatic rifles pleaded not guilty to charges in a nine-count federal indictment issued by a grand jury Thursday in U.S. District Court.
The indictment includes a new charge against the alleged mastermind of the plan, Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, formerly known as Joseph Anthony Davis, a felon and Muslim convert who federal law-enforcement officials have said was “self-radicalized.”
Abdul-Latif, 33, is the target of most of the charges — a total of six, including the new count of soliciting an act of violence. He’s named in several firearms charges apart from his co-defendant, Walli Mujahidh, 32, who prosecutors say traveled from Los Angeles to Seattle to help carry out the attack, which was planned for the day after Independence Day at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) on East Marginal Way South.
However, both men are named in the most serious core offenses: conspiracy to murder officers and employees of the U.S. government, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction [a grenade] and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Those charges carry life sentences, and the firearm charge includes a mandatory-minimum 30-year sentence that must be served consecutively to any other sentences.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue set trial for Sept. 7 before U.S. District Judge James Robart. It’s almost certain that date will be delayed given the complexity of the case.
The indictment for the most part follows a criminal complaint filed when the men were arrested June 22, charging them with conspiring to mount a suicide raid at the MEPS with assault rifles and fragmentation grenades, targeting recruits and soldiers they believed would eventually wind up fighting Muslims in Afghanistan or Iraq.
The complex of buildings also contains a cafeteria and a day-care center.
Seattle police learned of the conspiracy in May when an unidentified informant said he was approached by Abdul-Latif, whom he knew previously, about obtaining weapons and possibly participating in the raid.
Police and the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force hired the informant to obtain information on the plot — including extensive taped conversations. The men were arrested after Abdul-Latif allegedly paid the informant for rifles and grenades that had been secretly disabled by federal agents.
The informant — who police say has at least five felony convictions himself — will be pivotal to the case, and already defense attorneys are questioning his role.
Abdul-Latif’s public defenders, Jennifer Wellman and Erik Levin, urged the court last week to issue an order preserving evidence about the informant’s early role in the case.
A motion notes that at least one key early meeting between Abdul-Latif and the informant was not recorded.
Wellman said Thursday she withdrew the motion after prosecutors assured her the information would be safeguarded.
According to the FBI, the informant recorded conversations with the men in which Abdul-Latif said he hoped the attacks would inspire other young Muslims to rise up against the West.
Abdul-Latif had posted angry anti-American and anti-Western videos on a YouTube channel and he railed against the wars in Afghanistan and the revolts in the Middle East that were pitting Muslim against Muslim.
According to court documents and law-enforcement sources, he had initially chosen Joint Base Lewis-McChord as a target at least partly because Stryker soldiers there are being court-martialed for allegedly murdering Afghan civilians. The target was changed later to the MEPS.
Abdul-Latif served time for robbery in Washington. Mujahidh has a history of mental illness.
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.