Two members of an Islamic terrorist cell aiming for Jewish targets pleaded guilty in federal court.
Kevin Lamar James, 31, and Levar Haney Washington, 28, face up to 20 to 25 years in prison after plotting to attack targets in Los Angeles, including the Israeli consulate, an El Al ticket counter and two synagogues.
They entered guilty pleas Friday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif. A third defendant, Gregory Vernon Patterson, 27, was expected to do likewise this week.
Police discovered the plot by chance in July 2005. Authorities said it was closer to going operational than any other terrorist plan since 9/11 and engaged a joint task force of 350 federal, state and local investigators.
James founded the cell as Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, translated as Assembly of Authentic Islam, from his jail cell at the New Folsom Prison in California in 1997. He recruited fellow Black Muslim converts there.
Police stumbled on the cell when they arrested Washington and Patterson in a string of gas station robberies intended to raise money for the planned attacks.