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ConspiracytoAttackSeattle MilitaryProcessingCenter

October2011 MadeleineGruenandAlfredoKuilan mgruen@nefafoundation.org akuilan@nefafoundation.org

Overview
OnJune22,2011,AbuKhalidAbdulLatif (akaJosephAnthonyDavis)andWalli Mujahidh (akaFredrickAnthonyDomingue,Jr.)werearrestedastheyattempted tobuyautomaticweaponsfromFBIundercoveragents.Theyintendedtousethe gunstokillmilitary,security,andcivilianpersonnelatajointmilitaryentrance processingstation(MEPS)inSeattle,Washington. Thetwomen,whowereconvertstoIslam,werechargedwithconspiringto murderofficersandemployeesoftheU.S.governmentusingweaponsofmass destruction.Inaddition,theyhavebeenchargedwithunlawfulpossessionof firearmsinfurtheranceofcriminalviolence. TheplotbecameknowntolawenforcementonMay30,2011,whena thirdman, whoAbdulLatif attemptedtorecruitintotheplot,informedpolice.Thatman becameaconfidentialinformant(CI)fortheinvestigation. Theconspiratorsareallegedtohavebeenplottingtheirattackforapproximately twomonthspriortotheirarrest. InJuly2011,inaseparateincident,anacquaintanceofAbdulLatifs,exconvict andconverttoIslam,MichaelMcCright,allegedlyattemptedtoforcetwoMarines offtheInterstatehighway.McCrights cellphonerecordsindicatethathehad phonecontactwithAbdulLatif atleastthreetimespriortoAbdulLatifs arrest. Investigationisongoingtodetermineifthereisafurtherconnectionbetween McCrights allegedattackattemptandAbdulLatifs terrorplot.

KeyPoints
Conspiratorstargetedmilitaryforattack,citingretaliationforU.S.involvement overseas.Theyhopedtheattackwouldattractmediaattention. Werenotonly tryingtokillpeople, AbdulLatif said,weretyingtosendamessage. Theyintendedtousefirearmsandgrenadesintheattack,whichareeasyto obtainandrelativelysimpletouse. Plotmastermind,AbdulLatif,andtheCIwereconvictedfelons.McCright,who attemptedtorunMarinesoffthehighway,wasalsoaconvictedfelon.AbdulLatif andMcCright hadbeenincarceratedattheWallaWallastatepenitentiary,butnot atthesametime.AbdulLatif isreportedtohaveconvertedtoIslamwhilein prison. AbdulLatif utilizedsocialmedia,primarilyYouTube,toexpresshisbeliefsand grievances.ItispossiblehewasradicalizedbytheviolentIslamistmaterialhe viewedonline. AbdulLatifs YouTubechannelfeatureslecturesbyAnwaralAwlaki,the American/YemenialQaidaaffiliatedclericwhowaskilledinadronestrikein YemenonSeptember30,2011.AbdulLatifs channelfeaturedvideosofother inspirations suchasAustralianclericFeiz Mohammed,andClementRodney HamptonEl,ahospitaltechnicianfromBrooklyn,NY,whowasconvictedin1995 ofconspiringtoattackNewYorkCitylandmarks.

Associations
AbuKhalidAbdulLatif andtheCIkneweachotherfromprison,wheretheyhad bothconvertedtoIslam.TheCIhadanextensivecriminalrecord,includingfive felonyconvictionsandonemisdemeanorconviction. AccordingtoamediainterviewgivenbyAbdulLatifs wife,Binta MoussaDavis, theCIwasatAbdulLatifs homefrequentlyandhadevenstayedthereforatwo weekstretch.MoussaDavisalsoclaimedtothepressthattheCIhadstolen thousandsofdollarsfromherhusband. Walli Mujahidh isnotknowntohaveaprisonrecord,butdoeshaveahistoryof mentalillness. MoussaDavisstatedtoreportersthatshedidnotknowhowherhusbandmet Mujahidh,butthatheoftenvisitedtheirhomewhenhelivedinSeattle.

AbdulLatif AbuKhalidAbdulLatif,33atthetimeofhisarrest,wasveryactiveonline.Heposted
commentsonarangewebsites,somerelatedtoreligionandothersrelatedto politicsorentertainment. Heusedtruthfulbiographicalinformationinhiswebposts,includinginapersonal profileonaMuslimmatchmakingsitewherehewasseekingasecondwife. Inthematchmakingprofile,AbdulLatif indicatedthathewasoriginallyfromSan Diego,CA. AbdulLatif hadahistoryoffelonies.In2003,hewasconvictedofrobbinga7Eleven inBremerton,Washington.Hestole$50outoftheregisterafterbrandishingtwotoy gunsattheclerk. Inamentalevaluationbeforehistrialforthe7Elevenrobbery,AbdulLatif reportedly saidthathehadtwicetriedtocommitsuicide. In2003,hewaschargedwithCustodialAssaultforassaultingaciviliankitchen supervisoratWallaWallaStatePenitentiary.Aftertheassault,hewasplacedinthe maximumsecurityunit. HeconvertedtoIslaminprisonwhileservinghis2yearsentenceforrobbery.During thatperiodhewasincarceratedatWashingtonStatePenitentiary inWallaWallaand wasthentransferredtoStaffordCreekCorrectionsCenter.Thereisnoavailable reportingtoindicateatwhichfacilityheconvertedtoIslam,orwhohisinfluences wereatthetime.

AbdulLatif,cont.

Idris Mosque (Northgate) in Seattle, WA [source: www.idrismosque.com]

Abdul-Latif [source: Washington State Department of Corrections]

LegallychangedhisnamefromJosephAnthonyDavistoAbuKhalidAbdulLatif in 2007. MarriedtoBinta MoussaDavis,withwhomhehasathreeyearoldson. MoussaDavisisadevoutMuslimoriginallyfromNiger. ShecametotheU.S.onastudentvisaandlivedinColumbus,Ohiountilsheand AbdulLatif wereintroducedthroughamutualfriendwhohadattendedprayersat SeattlesIdris Mosque,whereAbdulLatif prayedatthetime. Idris Mosquewasestablishedin1981,builtwithfundingfromSaudiArabia. AtthetimeAbdulLatif wasreleasedfromprison,themosquehadaninmate services program.Thereisnofurtherinformationdescribingthefunctionofor servicesprovidedbytheprogram.

AbdulLatif,cont.
AbdulLatif andhisfamilylivedinanapartmentinTukwila,Washington,15 miles southofSeattle.Therentwasapproximately$800/month. HefiledforbankruptcyonMay20,2011,claiminghehadonly$1.08inhisbank account. Inthefiling,AdulLatif claimedtoownhisownjanitorialservice,Fresh&Clean Janitorial, whichwaslistedonmanywebsiteslistinglocalservices. Hestatedinthepaperworkthatheearned$2,091/month.Hestatedhiswife earned$1,200/month. Theyclaimedatotalincomeofapproximately$22,000in2010.

ApartmentbuildinginwhichAbdulLatif livedwithhisfamily[source:AP] SeaTacmosquewhereAbdulLatif attendedprayers priortohisarrest[source:SeattleTimes]

AbdulLatif,cont.

RequestforinformationonteachingpositionsinYemenpostedby AbdulLatif onFebruary15,2011onexpatblog.com.AbdulLatif posted frequentlytoblogs,offeringcommentsonpoliticalissues,andexpressinghisdisdainfortheU.S.government.

AbdulLatif,cont.

Profile apparently posted by Abdul-Latif seeking a second wife [source: nikah.com]

AbdulLatif:RadicalizingInfluences
TherearenopublicreportsaboutAbdulLatifs interactionsinthephysicalworld thatmayhaveledtohisradicalization,however,becauseofhis active participationinonlinemediaandsocialnetworksthereisevidenceofhowal Qaidist messagingresonatedwithhimandwhichmessengershefoundinspiring. Hemaintainedhisownchannel onYouTubeonwhichhepostedvideosof himselfspeakingaboutIslamicetiquetteandpolitics.Healsopostedjihadi training videosandlecturesbyextremistideologues,including:
AnwaralAwlaki,includingonelecturetitledFreeMuslimPrisoners, Yemenijihadi propagandavideos, lecturesbyAustralianclericFeiz Muhammad(seeNEFAbackgrounderonMuhammad http://nefafoundation.org//file/nefa_feizmuhammad0310.pdf), avideofeaturingOmarBrooks(AbuIzzadeen),spokesmanforaUKbasedalMuhajiroun offshoot. Hewasconvictedofincitingterrorismoverseasin2008. aninterviewfeaturingtheleaderofyetanotheralMuhajiroun (ALM)offshoot,Anjem Choudary, alecturebyAlialTamimi,whowasconvictedin2005ofincitingterrorisminconnectiontothe VirginiaPaintBallNetwork, and,aclipofanewsstoryabouttheplottoattackFt.Dix.

AbdulLatif:RadicalizingInfluences
OneofAbdulLatifs YouTubevideosfeaturesa1988interviewwithAbdullah Rashid(akaClementHamptonEl)inwhichhediscussesjihad.Thetalkwastaped fromhisbedinLongIslandCollegeHospitalinBrooklyn,NY,soonafterhestepped onalandminewhilefightingtheSovietsinAfghanistan.Theinterviewwasfilmed byElSayyid Nosair,whowasarrestedin1990forassassinatingradicalJewish leaderMeirKahane.

AbdulLatif:RadicalizingInfluences

ScreenshotsfeaturingAbdulLatif invideoshepostedtohisYouTubechannel

ExamplesofcommentsAbdulLatif madeonhisYouTubechannel

Walli Mujahidh
BornFredrickDominigue,Jr. RaisedintheCaliforniafostercaresystem. Reportedtohavesufferedfromseverementalillness hisentirelife.Struggledwithdrugabuseandunableto keepajob. Althoughhehadbeenarrestedforshoplifting,thereis norecordofincarceration. MovedtoSeattlein2007tomarry.Heandhiswife separatedthesameyearaftershefiledaprotection orderagainsthim.ConvertedtoIslamwhileinSeattle. WasaresidentofLosAngelesatthetimeofhisarrest. WhenAbdulLatif pressedMujahidh onhis commitmenttofollowthroughwithaterroristattack, Mujahidh assuredthathehad,nothingtolose, and everythingtogain.

SuspectinAttemptedVehicularHomicide,MichaelMcCright
InJuly2011,MichaelMcCright (akaMikhailJihad),28,allegedly attemptedtoforcetwoMarineofficersoffahighway,firstforcing themintotheemergencylane,thenpullinginfrontofthemand slammingthebreaks,nearlycausingacollision. TheMarinesnotedtheplatenumber,whichtracedbackto McCrights vehicle.McCright deniedinvolvementintheincident, butwasarrestedandchargedwithassaultinSeptember2011. Todate,therehavebeennoreportsdirectlytyingthisincident to theSeattleMEPSplot,howeverMcCright hadphonecontactwith AbdulLatif onatleastthreeoccasions,accordingtoMcCrights cellphonerecords. McCright hasanextensivecriminalhistory,includingjuvenile offenses.Hewasconvictedoffirstdegreerobberyin2006andan assaultchargein2005.Hewaslastreleasedfromprisonin November2009. ThereisnoreportingonwhereMcCright convertedtoIslam. However,hewasincarceratedinWalla,Wallastatepenitentiary, whereAbdulLatif isreportedtohaveconvertedtoIslam. Aninvestigationtodeterminewhetherthehighwayincidentwas anactofterrorismisongoing.

SuspectinAttemptedVehicularHomicide,MichaelMcCright

Michael McCrights MySpace page, on which he referred to himself as Mikhail Jihad, was created while he was incarcerated at Walla Walla state penitentiary

TargetSelection
MotivatedbytheirangeroverU.S.militaryoperationsinMuslim countries,the conspiratorsresearchedtargetsonline.TheiroriginaltargetwastheJointBase LewisMcChord,buttheychangedtheirplantotargettheMilitaryEntrance ProcessingStation(MEPS),amilitaryrecruitingstationinanindustrial neighborhoodinSeattle. AbdulLatif suggestedMEPS,notingthepersonnelattheprocessingcenterwere lesslikelytobearmedthanthoseatthemilitarybase. AbdulLatif saidofMEPS,Itsaconfinedspace,notalotofpeoplecarrying weapons,andwedhavetheadvantage. HestatedthatMEPSwouldbeagoodtargetbecauseeveryonegoingthrough wouldbeontheirwaytothefrontlinestokillourbrothersandsistersoverthere [referringtoIraqandAfghanistan]. AbdulLatif hopedthattheattackwouldsendamessage toAmericansnotto jointhemilitary. AbdulLatif statedtotheotherconspiratorstheywerenottargetingoldpeople, womenoutofuniform,orchildren,onlypeoplewhoweargreenforthekaffir army.

AbdulLatif toldtheCIhecouldnotseethetargetwellfromaerialviews(ostensiblyfromtheInternet) anddeterminedtheyhadtoconductsurveillanceonthepremises

PreoperationalPlanning&Surveillance
OnJune8,2011,AbdulLatif andtheCIconductedsurveillanceofthebuildingin whichMEPSislocated. ThetwoparkedtheircarinthelotandastheyapproachedthebuildingAbdul Latif commentedonthepresenceofasecurityguardinsidethebuildingand securitycamerasontheexteriorofthebuilding. AbdulLatif commentedtotheCIthathewasnotworriedaboutthesecurityguard becauseWelljustkillhimrightaway.Wecankillhimfirst. AbdulLatif instructedthesourcetogoundercover intothebuildingthathoused theprocessingstationtodetermineexactlywheretheofficewas.

4735 East Marginal Way, Seattle In addition to the military processing office, the 2-storey building houses other government agencies, including a federal child care facility

MethodofAttack
AccordingtoAbdulLatifs originalplantoattacktheJointBaseLewisMcChord, themenwouldcrashthroughthegatewithavan,withMujahidh atthewheel, thenopenfirewithAK47sandpossiblyexplosives,onlytargetinganyone wearinggreenorabadge. AbdulLatif statedtotheCIthathewaswillingtodie asamartyrintheattack. AbdulLatif assignedtheresponsibilityofacquiringfirearmstotheCI,whohe believedhadmoreextensiveexperiencewiththemandthecontactsrequiredto buythem. AbdulLatif gavetheCI$800andinstructedhimtopurchasethreemachineguns andseveralloadedmagazines.AbdulLatif saidtheywouldneedtobuypistols, grenades,bulletproofvests,andotherequipmentneededfortheattackaswell. Afterhandlingtheweapons,AbdulLatif determinedwhichwouldworkthebestin theattack. OncethegroupsettledonMEPSasthetargetofattack,itwasdecidedMujahidh wouldstandguardoutsidethedoor.

MethodofAttack
Atthetimeoftheirarrest,theconspiratorswerestilldebatingthedurationof theirattack:whethertheyintendedtogoin,shooteveryone,thencommit suicide,oriftheyintendedtoholdthebuilding. AbdulLatif andMujahidh bothstatedtheywouldbewillingtodieintheattack. AbdulLatif saidiftheychosetoholdthebuildingtheywouldbeabletoattractthe attentionoflocalmedia,whichwouldhaveenabledthemtodelivertheirmessage tothepublic.

ImplicationsandBestPractices
AbdulLatif drewhisideologicalinspirationfromarangeofindividuals,mostof whomsharedalQaidist beliefs. ThematerialhepostedonhisYouTubepagenotonlyindicatedhisinterestin individualswhohaveprovenresonancewithrecenthomegrown jihadis,suchas AnwaralAwlaki,butalsothosewhoarelesserknownintheUnitedStates,such asOmarBrooks(AbuIzzadeen)fromtheUK.Healsocirculatedrarematerialfrom thosewhohavebeenincarceratedandunabletocirculateupdated lectures,such asAlialTamimi andRodneyClementHamptonEl.Inspirationforattacksis derivedfromtheideologydeliveredbyapersuasiveandcredible messenger,not alwaysonewhomakesmainstreammediaheadlines. AbdulLatif andMcCright areonlytwoofmanyindividualswhoconvertedto Islam,eitherduringtheperiodoftheirincarcerationorthroughpostrelease programs,whowereradicalizedandpursuedterrorism.Pinpointingwhere radicalizationoccursenhancesopportunitiesforinterdiction.

ImplicationsandBestPractices
Theconspiratorschangedtheirtargetfromamilitarybasetoamilitaryprocessing centerbecausetheyassessedtheywouldbelesslikelytoencounterarmed personnelattheprocessingcenter.Althoughasuccessfulattackonamilitary basewouldhaveresultedingreaterimpact,theriskandthelowerpossibilityofa successfuloutcomeledtheconspiratorstoselectasoftertarget. Militaryprocessingandrecruitmentcentershavebeentargetedbyseveral homegrown attackersincludingCarlosBledsoeandAnthonyMartinez.Military recruitingcenters,asopposedtomilitarybases,areamoreaccessible,softer targetbecausetheyarelocatedinpublicareas,suchasshoppingcenters. Attackersintendtosendamessagethattheattackisinretaliationformilitary operationsinMuslimmajoritycountries,andtodeterothersfromenlisting. Grievancesofteninformtargetselection.Thus,ifconspirators disapproveof militarypracticestheyarelikelytoselectamilitaryrelatedtargetforattack.

AftermathofbombexplosionatrecruitingcenterinTimesSquare

ImplicationsandBestPractices
AbdulLatif soughttobringothersintotheplot.Oneindividualreportedtheplot totheSeattlePoliceDepartment. Lonewolforlonecellplottersmayrevealtheirintentionstoothersinorderto recruitthem,ortheymayindicatetheirintentionsbroadlyonline.

Itisillegalforconvictedfelonstopossessfirearms.Inordertoobtainweaponsfor anattack,plotterswilllikelygotosourcesoutsideofprisonwithwhomtheyare familiar.

ImplicationsandBestPractices
Inadvanceofalonewolfattack,suchastheplottoattackMEPS,theremaynot bethetangibleindicatorsthatonemightseeinadvanceofaterroristattack committedbyaterroristgroup,because,whenactingalone,theattackermaynot communicatehismovementstoanyone,ortakeordersfromacommander,or requiremuchadvanceplanningorfunding.Thus,theopportunitiestointerdict maybedifficulttoidentify,ifthereareanyatall.However,respondersneedtobe readytotakeactionwhensomethingseemsnotquiteright.

ImplicationsandBestPractices
Robusthumanintelligencecollectionisakeycomponentofasolid counterterrorismstrategy. Vigilancepreventsattacks.Thatincludesgoodpoliceworkandanobservant publicthatisconditionedtolookforthingsthatareunusualoroutofplace.

References
UnitedStatesofAmericavs.AbuKhalidAbdulLatifandWalliMujahidh,United StatesDistrictCourtfortheWesternDistrictofWashington,CriminalComplaint, caseno.MJ11292,filedJune23,2011. http://nefafoundation.org/newsite/file/US_v_WalliMujahidh_complaint.pdf BrianRoss,SeattleTerrorSuspectWantedtoGotoYemen, ABCNews,June24, 2011,http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/seattleterrorsuspectabdullatifwanted yemen/story?id=13925809 AbuKhalidAbdulLatifVoluntaryPetitionforBankruptcy,U.S.BankruptcyCourt WesternDistrictofWashington,caseno.Case1116033TWD,filedMay20,2011. JanetI.Tu,WifeofManAccusedinTerroristPlot:HeisnotanExtremist, Seattle Times,June24,2011. SusanKelleher,SuspectsLifeMarkedByMentalIllness,AcquaintanceSays, SeattleTimes,June24,2011.

References
TracyVedder andLindseyCohen,TerrorSuspectsFatherReactstoArrest, KOMONews,June24,2011,http://www.seattlepi.com/local/komo/article/Terror suspectsfatherreactstoarrest1439609.php SuspectNabbedinSeattleTerrorPlothadRobbedBremertonStore, Associated Press,June23,2011. MikeCarter,ManChargedinAttempttoSideswipeMarineRecruitersonI5Near Northgate, SeattleTimes,September13,2011. AbdulLatifs YouTubechannel,lastaccessedonSeptember30,2011from http://www.youtube.com/user/akabdullatif 1988interviewwithClementRodneyHamptonElbyElSayyidNosairinBrooklyn, NYhospital,lastaccessedonSeptember30,2011from http://www.youtube.com/user/JMBerger