Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif had a vision. The orchestrator of a foiled plot to massacre Army recruits at a federal building in south Seattle, he allegedly told an FBI informant that he was "trying to get something that's gonna be on CNN and all over the world." He had even picked out his dream headline, which he hoped would inspire "young Muslims" around the globe to follow in his footsteps. It read, according to court documents: "Three Muslim Males Walk Into MEPS Building, Seattle, Washington, and Gun Down Everybody."
Court documents filed yesterday by federal prosecutors include testimony by the FBI agent who headed the undercover operation. They paint a picture of a misguided religious fanatic hell-bent on avenging the murders of civilians last year in Afghanistan by the so-called "Kill Team" stationed at Fort Lewis.
"Abdul-Latif talked about alleged atrocities committed by United States soldiers in Afghanistan," writes FBI special agent Albert C/ Kelly, "specifically referencing ongoing military proceedings against Army soldiers stationed at Fort Lewis. Abdul-Latif said that he was not comfortable with letting the legal system deal with these matters."
Abdul-Latif, 33, was born Joseph Anthony Davis. He has a fairly extensive criminal history, with 10 arrests in Washington, including a 2002 conviction in Kitsap County for first-degree robbery, a felony for which he was sentenced 33 months in prison, where he converted to Islam. In that case, Abdul-Latif's attorney argued that he was unfit to stand trial, and a state-appointed doctor concluded that he "might have some psychological issues." Eight years later, it sounds as if Abdul-Latif has removed all doubt.
He was also, it would seem, a cold, calculating killer. Prosecutors allege that Abdul-Latif and another man--Walli Mujahidh, aka Frederick Domingue, Jr. of Los Angeles--"conspired to attack a United States Military facility and to murder employees and officers of the United States Military."
The intended target was the Military Entrance Processing Station at 4735 East Marginal Way in Seattle. This is the building where new Army recruits assemble before they're shipped off to basic training, and where those interested in enlisting can go to talk to a recruiter.
Abdul-Latif was reportedly caught on tape saying he was inspired by the 2009 Fort Hood massacre that left 13 people dead. "If one person could kill so many people," he allegedly said, "three attackers could kill many more."
On June 8, Abdul-Latif and an FBI informant took a reconnaissance mission to the MEPS center. Abdul-Latif, who briefly served in the Navy, concluded that "It's a confined space, not a lot of people carrying weapons, and we'd have an advantage." Though there was a day-care center located in an adjacent building, Abdul-Latif reportedly said that he was "not comfortable killing children or anything like that."
"Imagine how many young Muslims, if we're successful, will try to hit these kinds of centers," he allegedly added. "Imagine how fearful America will be and they'll know they can't push the Muslims around."
Less than a week earlier, on June 3, Abdul-Latif's scheme was derailed when he invited a third man to join his conspiracy. Abdul-Latif inquired with an old friend about obtaining weapons to carry out the attack. That man, not named in the documents, contacted Seattle police, who then alerted the FBI. The feds made the third man a paid informant, but had doubts about his reliability.
Kelly, the FBI agent, writes that, "the source has extensive criminal history, including at least five felony convictions and one misdemeanor conviction . . . the source has been convicted of extremely serious offenses." The FBI agent notes, however, that their informant's rap sheet does not include any convictions for "crimes of dishonesty."
Abdul-Latif handed over the money he had saved for his hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all Muslims, according to the Quran) to the source to buy three machine guns and 10 grenades for the attack. With the help of the ATF, the FBI acquired three disarmed, M16-style machine guns and staged a buy in an empty Seattle parking garage. The men had allegedly planned "a camping trip" in the Wenatchee area to train with their newly acquired arsenal.
The type of the machine gun Abdul-Latif planned to use in attack.
The assault on the MEPS building was scheduled to go down July 5. Abdul-Latif reportedly stated he "wanted to die as a martyr in the attack," but he never got the chance. He and his alleged co-conspirator Mujahidh were arrested yesterday in Seattle at a warehouse where they stored the guns. They've been charged with numerous crimes, including conspiracy to murder officers and employees of the United States, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (grenades), and possession of firearms in furtherance of crimes of violence.
Before he set his sights on the MEPS building, Abdul-Latif allegedly wanted to attack Fort Lewis itself. He told the FBI source that they ought to "drive a truck that looks like the Titanic" through the front gates at the military base, then open fire with weapons and explosives. The plot was abandoned in part, according to the court documents, because he couldn't find a "psychopath" to pilot the vehicular battering ram. To find the ideal candidate, it seems he only would've had to look in the nearest mirror.