Jewish Defense League chairman, follower arrested by FBI

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Associated Press WriterLOS ANGELES (AP) -- The chairman of the Jewish Defense League was arrested in connection with a failed bombing plot, federal authorities said.

Irv Rubin, 56, and a member of the militant group, Earl Krugel, 59, both of Los Angeles, were booked early Wednesday at the downtown federal Metropolitan Detention Center, detention center spokeswoman Donna Davis said.

The arrests late Tuesday were in connection with a bombing plot, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. He would not describe the alleged scheme except to say, "The bombing was not carried out."

Criminal charges were expected to be filed later Wednesday.

"Irv Rubin never had anything to do with explosives," said Rubin's attorney, Peter Morris. "It seems to us that, given the timing ... the government's action is part of an overreaction to the Sept. 11 events."

Law enforcement agencies raided a Reseda home Tuesday night. Footage showed officers carrying out weapons and cardboard boxes.

A neighbor, Rod Colson, said Krugel had lived there more than 20 years. He said he heard Krugel's dog barking at about 10 p.m. and went outside, where he saw people carrying out boxes.

"I saw a lot of agents in the back yard taking photos," he said.

The screen door of the red brick home was broken and part of the fence had been knocked down. A menorah, the Jewish candelabra used for Hanukkah, was visible through a window and there was an American flag on the mailbox.

Matthew McLaughlin, an FBI spokesman in Los Angeles, declined to discuss the alleged target but said physical evidence was found.

"The tools might have been in place to do this thing," he said. "We don't put people in (custody) just for superficial impressions. We put people in place for their physical actions."

Rubin's wife, Shelley, said in a telephone interview that her husband and Earl "are completely innocent of anything. They are law-abiding, good people."

Originally formed by Meir Kahane to mount armed response to anti-Semitic acts in New York City, the JDL gained notoriety when its members were linked to bombings, most of them aimed at Soviet targets in retaliation for the way that country treated its Jewish population.

Kahane left the JDL in the 1980s. A power struggle ensued, with Rubin among the contenders for its leadership.

Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990. El Sayyid Nosair, 36, an Egyptian-born Muslim, was convicted in connection with the shooting.

Rubin has made a career out of confrontation, challenging white supremacists to fistfights, or burning a Confederate flag outside a courthouse. By his own count he has been arrested more than 40 times. In 1980, he was tried and found innocent of soliciting the murders of Nazis in the United States.

A suit filed by Rubin resulted in a court decision last year banning prayer during Burbank City Council meetings.

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