RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KTLA) — Accused terrorists Arifeen Gojali, Ralph Deleon, and Miguel Santana entered not guilty pleas in connection with a terror plot to join Al Qaeda.
Last week, a federal grand jury indicted Gojali, 21, of Riverside along with Santana, 21, of Upland and Deleon, 23, of Ontario.
All three were arrested in Ontario on Nov.16.
The indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside, accused the men of trying to kill federal employees and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States.
A fourth suspect and central figure in the alleged plot is Sohiel Kabir, 34, a native Afghan and naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in Pomona and served in the U.S. Air Force from 2000 to 2001.
Kabir was apprehended on Nov. 18 in Kabul. According to the criminal complaint, he converted co-defendants Santana and Deleon to radical Islam in 2010.
Kabir then left for Afghanistan to make arrangements for the three of them to join the Taliban or Al Qaeda, the complaint says.
In September 2012, Deleon and Santana recruited defendant Gojali, a U.S. citizen, to join them and travel overseas to commit “violent jihad,” as alleged in the complaint.
If convicted, the men each face up to 15 years in federal prison.