LOS ANGELES - Four men have been charged with plotting to join the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to conduct "violent jihad" aimed at killing Americans abroad, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said late Monday.
Three of the four had undertaken preliminary training at firearms and paintball centers in southern California, as preparation for further training in Afghanistan, said an FBI statement.
The alleged plot aimed "to provide material support to terrorists by making arrangements to join Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to kill, among others, American targets," it added.
Ralph Deleon, 23; Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales and Arifeen David Gojali, both 21, were arrested on Friday and appeared in court Monday outside Los Angeles.
The fourth man charged, Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, is in custody in Afghanistan, said the FBI, quoting US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr and Bill Lewis, assistant head of the bureau's Los Angeles office.
Santana and Deleon told a confidential source working for the FBI that they "planned to travel to Afghanistan to engage in 'violent jihad'," said the FBI.
The charges against the four include "conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure persons and damage property in a foreign country," and helping a plot to kill or attempt to kill US officers and American citizens.
They also allegedly sought to help a "conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction outside the United States," and a plot aimed at "bombing places of public use and government facilities."
Kabir was born in Afghanistan and is a naturalized US citizen. Deleon was born in the Philippines and is a resident alien in California; Santana was born in Mexico and has applied for US citizenship, while Gojali is a US citizen.
If convicted, they face up to 15 years in jail.