The national chairman of the Jewish Defense League and a fellow member of the militant group have been charged with conspiracy to blow up Arab and Muslim targets in Southern California.
Issa, whose district includes parts of San Diego and Orange counties, is an Arab-American of Lebanese descent. He is one of the more vocal critics of Israel in Congress.
Leading Jewish organizations strongly condemned the alleged plot. A press conference was scheduled for later in the day.
“We are saddened that members of our own Jewish community would resort to the use of violence against Arab and Muslim Americans,” said Bonnie Lipton, president of Hadassah: The Women’s Zionist Organization of America. “No grievance, dispute or political argument can ever justify these tactics.”
“As a member of Congress who happens to be Jewish, I want to take special pains to condemn this potential act of domestic terrorism,” Ackerman said. “No political cause can justify the murder of innocents, whether the cause is Palestinian, Jewish or that of any other group.”
As outlined by U.S. Attorney John Gordon and Ronald Iden of the local FBI office, an informant reported attending a meeting with Rubin and Krugel in October, during which he was asked to help bomb the alleged targets.
According to the complaint, Krugel commented during the meeting that Arabs “need a wake-up call.” Rubin allegedly said the JDL needed to let people know that it was “alive in a militant way.”
In subsequent meetings, the informant was told to locate and photograph the offices of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and to buy some of the bomb components, including pipes and explosive powder.
Last weekend, authorities say, Rubin and Krugel told the informant that the target would not be the MPAC office but the King Fahd Mosque and Issa’s office.
On Tuesday, the informant allegedly delivered explosive powder, the last component needed to construct pipe bombs, to Krugel’s house.
In the evening, Rubin and Krugel had dinner at a local deli. Rubin was arrested about 9 p.m. while driving to his home in Monrovia. Krugel was arrested at his home in Reseda.
A neighbor of Krugel reported that law enforcement officers broke through fences and a screen door at Krugel’s house and carried away weapons and cardboard boxes. A menorah was visible through the window, the neighbor said.
Rubin’s attorney, Peter Morris, said that “Irv Rubin never had anything to do with explosives. It seems to us that, given the timing,” the government’s action is “part of an overreaction to the Sept. 11” terror attacks on New York and Washington.
Morris’ partner, Bryan Altman, claimed that federal authorities wanted to demonstrate their “even-handedness” by balancing terrorist charges against Muslims with similar charges against Jews.
Rubin and Krugel face charges of conspiracy to destroy a building by means of explosives and of possessing a destructive device related to a violent crime.
The first count carries a penalty of at least 30 years in prison, while the second has a maximum sentence of five years, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Rubin, a native of Canada but a longtime California resident, was named national chairman of the militant JDL in 1985 by its founder, the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. At the time, Rubin said his first priority was “to teach every Jew self-defense” through free classes in martial arts and weapons use.
Rubin and the JDL were involved in numerous high-profile confrontations and received extensive media coverage in the 1980s and early 1990s, but in recent years have garnered few headlines.
Jewish organizations, including the local Jewish federation, the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, expressed their horror at the alleged plot.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.