LOS ANGELES, January 11 (AP) -- Lawyers for two Jewish Defense League figures indicted in an alleged plot to blow up a mosque and an Arab-American congressman's office say their clients are being persecuted in "a climate of hysteria" following the Sept. 11 attacks.

A 24-page federal grand jury indictment returned Thursday alleges that JDL chairman Irv Rubin, 56, and JDL member Earl Krugel, 59, recruited another person to plant the bombs. That person went to the FBI, authorities have said. Rubin and Krugel were arrested Dec. 11 and are being held without bail, pending a Jan. 22 arraignment. The charges carry maximum penalties of at least two life terms in prison for each defendant.

``The government has blown this completely out of proportion and is acting in a climate of hysteria,'' said Mark Werksman, Krugel's attorney. ``Mr. Krugel denies that he ever planned to blow anything up. This was all talk initiated by and propelled by an informant."

The alleged targets were King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, Calif., and the field office of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Authorities have tape recordings of conversations made by the unidentified FBI informant, who allegedly attended about a dozen meetings at which bombings were discussed. They also say they seized bomb components, gunpowder and a machine gun from the garage of Krugel's home.

At first there was talk of bombing the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, the indictment said, but Rubin changed his mind and ordered the new targets. The indictment said Rubin instructed the informant to purchase gunpowder, which was then stored in Krugel's garage along with other bomb components.

Peter Morris, who represents Rubin, criticized language in the indictment that says the defendants conspired to ``use a weapon of mass destruction."

``This is a political case in which the government is trying to raise this to the level of the actions of Sept. 11, which is outrageous,'' Morris said. The indictment includes a list of charges, including conspiracy, conspiracy to use a destructive device, attempted arson, weapons possession and others.

Rubin, who has been chairman of the JDL since 1985, has made a career out of confrontation, challenging white supremacists to fist fights and 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 acquitted of soliciting the murders of Nazis in the United States.

The JDL was founded by Meir Kahane in 1968 to mount an armed response to anti-Semitic acts in New York.

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