By Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times
SEATTLE — One of two men accused of conspiring to attack a military-processing station in Seattle in July pleaded guilty to three federal charges Thursday in U.S. District Court.
Federal prosecutors said Walli Mujahidh, 32, formerly of Los Angeles, and another man plotted to kill U.S. military recruits in a machine-gun and grenade attack on the day after Fourth of July in hopes of inspiring like-minded radical Muslims in the U.S. to carry out terrorist attacks. Their target, according to federal prosecutors, was the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) on East Marginal Way South.
Mujahidh, appearing in federal court in a khaki jail uniform, answered “Guilty, your honor” when asked how he pleaded to charges of conspiracy to kill officers of the United States, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and unlawful possession of a firearm.
Under a plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to seek a sentencing range of 27 to 32 years on all three counts and to not pursue any other charges. His sentencing is set for April 16.
Mujahidh, also known as Frederick Domingue Jr., could have faced life in prison if convicted of all the charges contained in a federal indictment filed in the weeks after his June 22 arrest.
Defense attorney Michelle Shaw said Mujahidh, who has struggled with chronic and severe mental illness, was ashamed and remorseful for his participation in the plot, which she said stemmed from a fundamental misunderstanding about Islam.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the plea because co-defendant Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, 33, is awaiting trial.
Mujahidh and Abdul-Latif, both U.S. citizens who converted to Islam, were named in a nine-count indictment alleging they conspired to kill officers and employees of the U.S. government, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (a grenade) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Police learned of the plot through a paid informant, who secretly recorded conversations with the men, according to the indictment.
According to the FBI, the informant recorded conversations with the men in which Abdul-Latif said he hoped the attack would inspire other young Muslims to rise up against the West.
According to court documents and law-enforcement sources, Abdul-Latif had initially chosen Joint Base Lewis-McChord as a target at least partly because Stryker soldiers there are being court-martialed for allegedly murdering Afghan civilians. The target was changed later to the MEPS because the base was considered to be too large and hard to penetrate.
The two men were arrested after Abdul-Latif allegedly paid the informant for rifles and grenades that had been secretly disabled by federal agents.
Abdul-Latif served time for robbery in Washington. Mujahidh has a history of mental illness.
“This defendant tried to carry out a plot to kill American servicemen and women and other innocent citizens who happened to be at the federal facility on the day of the planned attack,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said in a news release. “I applaud the FBI, Seattle Police Department and the Joint Terrorism Task Force for their work in disrupting this plot and bringing Walli Mujahidh to justice.”
©2011 The Seattle Times