June 1, 2012 | FDD's Long War Journal

Jihad in Seattle

June 1, 2012 | FDD's Long War Journal

Jihad in Seattle

By LWJ Staff

Last week, Michael D. McCright, a.k.a. Mikhial Jihad, a previously convicted felon from the north Seattle suburb of Lynnwood, pled guilty to lesser charges in a case involving his attempt to force a government vehicle carrying two Marines off the road and cause a collision on an interstate highway in Seattle. The incident occurred on July 12, 2011 and resulted in McCright's arrest in Seattle on Sept. 8. McCright is linked to another American jihadist who plotted a suicide attack against Marines.

According to the Seattle PI, the Marine staff sergeant in the car targeted by McCright told police that the suspect's “eyes widened and he appeared to become angry” when he saw the uniformed men, and that shortly thereafter McCright deliberately swerved into the path of their vehicle, forcing it off the road, then stopped right in front of it.

Court documents filed following McCright's arrest indicate he has links with at least one of the men charged accused of plotting a suicide attack on a south Seattle Marine processing and intake center. The deputy prosecutor in McCright's case said that McCright's cell phone was used three times to call Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a Des Moines, Wa., resident who is being held along with Walli Mujahidh, of Los Angeles; the calls from McCright's phone were made prior to the July 22, 2011 arrests of Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh. The FBI decided to continue to investigate McCright's possible links to domestic terrorism. And according to KING5 news, “[a] federal criminal justice source said the FBI had McCright on their radar even before the July 12 road rage incident.”

Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, a.k.a. Joseph Anthony Davis, and Walli Mujahidh, a.k.a. Frederick Domingue Jr., are accused of conspiring to murder federal agents and officers and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, for their roles in plotting a suicide attack on the Federal Way MEPS center in south Seattle. Initial charges were filed in late June 2011 shortly after their arrest in an FBI sting operation; further charges were added in July, including weapons violations and solicitation of a crime of violence. In August, the trial was postponed due to the complexity of the case and the quantity of evidence gathered by the FBI and police, The Associated Press reported. Both Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh pled not guilty at the time.

In December, Mujahidh's attorney said her client suffered from mental illness and “a fundamental misunderstanding of Islam,” and said he would plead guilty in the case, according to AP.

It is unclear how Mujahidh and Abdul-Latif had initially become acquainted, although Mujahidh had lived in Seattle before moving to California. Both men have criminal records; Mujahidh for domestic violence and theft, Abdul-Latif for theft, assault, and robbery, for which he served 31 months in prison, AP reported. Nor has it been explained just how McCright came to know Abdul-Latif.

All three men appear to be converts to Islam. According to AP, Abdul-Latif admired Osama bin Laden and had apparently posted videos on YouTube calling for jihad and extolling al Qaeda's leadership in Yemen and endorsing radical Islam. “We need to establish jihad with the tongue, with the heart and with the hand,” he said in a video posted in May 2011.

The federal complaint in the case describes the detailed preparations Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh made for the suicide attack plot over a period of months leading up to their arrests. Abul-Latif, who had spent some time in the Navy in the mid-1990s, was designated as the “emir” or leader of the cell. The men originally intended to cause a devastating attack at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army base near Tacoma, but changed their focus to the MEPS center in south Seattle, which was located next to a daycare center. They conducted reconnaissance of the site, and sought to purchase fragmentation grenades, machine guns, bulletproof vests, and ammunition for the attack, in which they planned to kill as many soldiers as possible.

The secrecy of the suicide assault plan was ultimately compromised when another person was recruited by Abdul-Latif to help procure weapons for the plot; the person they chose was someone they had both known while in prison, investigators said, according to MSNBC. This person alerted the FBI in early June and began cooperating with the agency. On numerous occasions the FBI source asked Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh if they wanted to back out of the plan, and they did not. Mujahidh and Abdul-Latif both stated that they wanted to die as martyrs.

Mujahidh said that before he left Los Angeles to participate in the attack, he “told a couple of the 'brothers' that he was going to Seattle on a 'jihad.'” The government's complaint also stated that Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh told the FBI source that they had talked about terror attacks in Seattle even before the source became involved in their planning.

Taped conversations by the FBI source indicate that Mujahidh and Abdul-Latif sought to replicate the actions of Nidal Hasan, the US Army major who killed 13 soldiers in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., in November 2009. They speculated that if a single shooter such as Hassan could kill that many people, three attackers would be able to kill many more. The plotters expressed anger over the actions of the US military in Afghanistan, and hoped their attack would generate much media attention. “We're not only trying to kill people, we're gonna send a message,” Abdul-Latif is recorded as saying.

The plot was disrupted and the two men were arrested at the point they believed they were receiving weapons they had requested for the planned attack. Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh now face possible charges of life in prison.

It remains to be seen whether McCright's phone calls to Abdul-Latif last summer indicate any involvement in the planned attack on the MEPS center in south Seattle. But by pleading guilty to the lesser charges in the near-collision incident, he avoids facing a life sentence under Washington's 'three strikes' law for repeat violent offenders.