Inland Empire News
4 terror suspects arraigned in Riverside
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Four local men accused in a terror plot faced a judge Wednesday morning in Riverside. They're accused of plotting to bomb U.S. military bases and government facilities in Afghanistan and Yemen.
All four men, including the alleged ringleader, Sohiel Kabir of Pomona, pleaded not guilty. The three other defendants are Arifeen Gojali of Riverside, Miguel Santana of Upland and Ralph De Leon of Ontario. All four Inland Empire terror suspects appeared together in the same courtroom for the first time Wednesday. It could be a while before they go to trial.
Even though the judge set a trial date for August, defense attorneys don't know if that will give them enough time to prepare.
First off, there's a mountain of evidence.
And the government might be asking the judge to decide whether the defense even gets to see some of it, because of national security concerns.
Defense attorneys say that can make their case difficult.
"We don't even know what the evidence is, unless the judge rules that it's something we can see, so as a result, not only can we not defend the evidence, we don't even know it exists," said Rob Scott, attorney for Miguel Santana.
The men are accused of planning to join Al Qaeda, and travel to Afghanistan to attack U.S. military forces.
In court, the government says they've seized 18 computers that belong to the suspects, and there are hundreds of hours of audio recordings.
It's another reason it's going to be a lengthy process for defense attorneys.
"Either an investigator or the lawyer has to be sitting there with them when they go over it, and the limited number of hours that each inmate has at the particular location -- I can't imagine it's going to be ready by August. I just can't," said Randy Driggs, attorney for Ralph De Leon.
And because the alleged ringleader, Sohiel Omar Kabir, was in Afghanistan for four months, that will make his attorney's job perhaps even more complicated, because he says might have to go to Afghanistan himself to investigate.
Regardless of when the trial does start, the judge made it very clear that she does not want to wait any longer than 12 months.
riverside county, terrorism, inland empire news, rob mcmillan
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