2 Immigrants Who Plotted to Kill Americans Get 25 Years in Prison

By Susan Jones | February 25, 2015 | 12:01 PM EST

Sohiel Omar Kabir was sentenced on Feb. 23, 2015, for leading a plot to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, among other crimes. (Bill Robles/AP)

(CNSNews.com) - Two men who met in Southern California after coming to the United States legally from other countries will each spend 25 years in prison for conspiring to murder U.S. troops in Afghanistan and for providing material support to al Qaeda.

Their sentencing on Tuesday, Feb. 23, follows a 6-and-a-half week trial last summer.

According to the United States Attorneys Office for the Central District of California, Sohiel Omar Kabir, a naturalized American citizen from Afghanistan, introduced Ralph Deleon, a lawful permanent resident from the Philippines, to radical Islamic ideology in 2010.

After persuading Deleon to convert to Islam, Kabir left the United States in late 2011, arriving in Afghanistan in July 2012. While in Afghanistan, Kabir continued to communicate with Deleon and two other men, one originally from Mexico, encouraging them to join him to wage jihad in Afghanistan.

Kabir told the other men that he had contacts with terrorist organizations and that when they arrived, they would all would join “the Students," a reference to the Taliban; and later, “the Professors, a reference to Al-Qa’ida.

Prosecutors said Deleon, Kabir, and the others involved in the plot were heavily influenced by Anwar Al-Awlaki, the late spokesman for al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and "other advocates of violent jihad, whose teachings they frequently invoked during their planning and preparation in this case."

The plot fell apart in November 2012, when Deleon and two other defendants were arrested before leaving the U.S. for Afghanistan. They planned to fly out of Mexico to avoid detection of U.S. authorities. Kabir, who served in the United States Air Force from 2000-2001, was arrested by U.S. military officials in Afghanistan.

An undercover FBI agent who met with Deleon quoted him as saying that he believed the Taliban was fighting for the right cause.

But, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, Deleon later told the court his actions were "senseless."

"I am ready to face the consequences for my actions, which were senseless," Deleon wrote in a letter to the court. "I have no excuse for my actions and believed I was following the correct version of Islam, which is extreme and radical."

“This case demonstrates the need for vigilance and swift action to counter the false allure of violent extremism,” said United States Attorney Stephanie Yonekura. “When confronted with young Americans who succumbed to the empty promises of violent extremism and sought to assist a terrorist group in killing American soldiers abroad, law enforcement acted swiftly to eliminate the threat.”

David Bowdich of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office said the defendants betrayed the United States by supporting terror and conspiring to murder Americans serving overseas: "The lengthy prison sentences handed to Mr. Kabir and Mr. DeLeon should send a clear message to those who support terror groups that the FBI and our partners are committed to preventing deadly plots hatched either at home or abroad targeting the United States.”

The two other defendants in the case –- Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, a lawful permanent resident from Mexico whose application for U.S. citizenship is pending; and Arifeen David Gojali, a U.S. citizen -– have pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced next month.

All of the defendants were over the age of 21 when their plotting began.

Court documents show that some of the evidence used to break up the plot was obtained through FISA surveillace and searches.