A terror plot you haven’t heard of

Today’s Los Angeles Times reports here and here on a terror plot that “posed a real and serious threat…to attack more than a dozen military centers, synagogues and other sites in Southern California[.]” The Times stories include copies of several exhibits documenting the plot that were released by the government yesterday.
The plot was hatched in prison and apparently within 60 days of launching. Two defendants who were charged have now pleaded guilty:

As the defendants entered their pleas, prosecutors made public several documents detailing the group’s operations. One handwritten paper, titled “Modes of Attack,” includes a list of National Guard facilities, Army recruiting centers and something referred to as the “camp site of Zion.”
Another two-page document, labeled “Blueprint 2005,” sets out eight tasks to be accomplished in furtherance of the plot. “We will need bombs that can be activated from a distance,” one entry reads. “Acquire two weapons (pistols) with silencers,” reads another.
Kevin Lamar James and Levar Haney Washington, members of the homegrown radical Islamic organization dubbed JIS, entered guilty pleas in front of U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney in federal court in Santa Ana.

What motivated these fellows? The Times adds:

The unsuspecting officers found documents including a lengthy manifesto and a list of potential targets in the L.A. area. Days later, in a search of James’ prison cell, authorities found a draft of a statement that was to be released to the media after the group’s first fatal attack.
“This incident is the first in a series of incidents to come in a plight to defend and propagate traditional Islam in its purity,” the statement read. It warned “sincere Muslims” to avoid potential targets, including “those Jewish and non-Jewish supporters of an Israeli state.”…
James founded Jam’iyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh, also known as a JIS, in 1997. It was then that he began drafting the lengthy JIS protocol, a 103-page collection of writings about his religious “movement,” aimed at teaching his “students” about Islam and how to practice their faith.

The Times offers a few more details regarding their plans:

In addition to the military sites and synagogues, the document listed LAX and the Israeli Consulate as potential targets.
Moreover, Staples said, “they were discussing dates such as Yom Kippur” and Sept. 11, “which was literally two months off from when they were arrested,” he said. “So from their conversations and the notes they wrote to one another, it was clear they were ready to act within a few months.”
LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing, who oversaw his department’s role in the investigation, offered this blunt assessment:
“This cell was closer to going operational at the time than anyone since 9/11.”

The Times’s coverage implicitly raises questions concerning what is occurring in the California prisons, and why this story hasn’t been covered before today. The Times attempts to answer one obvious question, courtesy of law enforcement authorities:

Asked at the news conference whether JIS had other members at large or remained a threat, Staples offered a quick response.
“No,” he said. “They’re out of business.”

Somehow I’m not reassured. (Via reader Jeanne.)
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