US man gets 22 years for synagogue plot

Levar Haley Washington robbed gas stations to raise money for attacks on "infidels" in Los Angeles area.

brazil synagogue 88 (photo credit: Jerusalem Post)
brazil synagogue 88
(photo credit: Jerusalem Post)
One of four men accused of plotting from behind bars to attack military sites, synagogues and other targets in California was sentenced Monday to 22 years in federal prison. Levar Haley Washington, 30, was sentenced by US District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney after pleading guilty last year to conspiring to levy war against the United States and using a firearm to further the conspiracy. Prosecutors said Washington used a shotgun to rob a gas station on July 4, 2005 and was in a California prison gang cell of radical Muslims that planned attacks in the Los Angeles area and intended to finance them through robberies. Two of Washington's co-defendants, Kevin James and Gregory Patterson, also pleaded guilty to the terrorism conspiracy charge and will be sentenced later this summer. A fourth man, Hammad Samana, was found unfit to stand trial and is being treated in a federal psychiatric facility, said Thom Mrozek, the US attorney's spokesman. Washington said during a lengthy statement before the sentence was imposed that the government had exaggerated the intent of the group of men, but Carney disagreed, saying the "nature and scope of the terrorist acts... are truly frightening." Washington's attorney, Ellen Barry, did not immediately return a call Monday. Prosecutors alleged that the plot was orchestrated by Washington, Patterson and Samana at the behest of James, an inmate of California State Prison, Sacramento, who founded the radical group Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, or JIS. Washington converted to Islam and then tried to recruit other members of the group, authorities said, including men who had no criminal records and could therefore acquire weapons without suspicion. He and Patterson also robbed about a dozen gas stations to raise money for the attacks, Mrozek said. James preached that JIS members should target any enemies of Islam or "infidels," including the US government and any supporters of Israel, according to court documents. He also created a document he called the "JIS Protocol," which advocated the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the US that follows Sharia law, or Islamic law. James spelled out in a separate document that JIS members must learn Arabic, acquire two pistols with silencers, learn bomb-making and become "legitimate." Prosecutors assert that James also prepared a press release that the men planned to send out after an attack.