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3 accused terrorists plead not guilty in Riverside

December 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Three of the four local men accused of plotting terrorist attacks on U.S. targets overseas pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in Riverside.

Arifeen David Gojali, Ralph Deleon and Miguel Alejandro Santana appeared in court for an arraignment hearing. They were arrested following an FBI investigation, accused of conspiring to join the Taliban and eventually al Qaeda and attack U.S. forces overseas.

Family members of the terror suspects did not want to speak with the media, but Deleon's attorney said his client had several family members in court for support.

The three men were charged Nov. 16 after a confidential informant turned them in to the FBI. That informant worked undercover for more than four years and was paid more than a quarter-million dollars by the government. Santana's attorney says a big part of the case hinges on how a jury vies the actions of that informant.

"Very few people become informants for altruistic reasons. Most informants are working off criminal charges or getting paid, which gives them motivations," he said.

The fourth man, alleged ring leader Sohiel Omar Kabir, was arrested in Afghanistan and has been returned to the U.S. He has not yet been arraigned.

One attorney speculated that due to the amount of evidence, trial may not begin for close to a year. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison.


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