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JDL chairman Irv Rubin attempts suicide

Rubin in 1992
Rubin in 1992

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LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Controversial Jewish Defense League Chairman Irv Rubin, in jail on charges of plotting to bomb Muslim targets, slit his own throat and leapt over a railing in a suicide bid Monday and was barely clinging to life, his attorney said.

Rubin, who was being held on federal charges of conspiring to blow up a Los Angeles-area mosque and an Arab-American congressman's office, was rushed to a local hospital, where doctors tried to save his life, attorney Mark Werksman said.

Werksman said he was told by federal prosecutors that Rubin had died in surgery but that other officials had said that the JDL leader was still alive and in surgery..

A spokeswoman for the FBI said Rubin's condition was "grave" and his prognosis "very poor" and said she could not confirm whether he was still alive.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said they had not received a report of Rubin's death.

"I was informed that Irv tried to slit his throat with razor blade he obtained and then jumped over a railing and landed 20 feet (6 metres) below on a cement floor," Rubin attorney Mark Werksman told Reuters.

"I can't tell you if he's alive or dead at this moment," Werksman said.

"He's been despondent for months and the pressure of the upcoming trial weighed heavily on him," Werksman said. "He's been deteriorating for some time and the pressure of a Monday court appearance may have pushed him over top."

Rubin, who is married with a young son, and JDL member Earl Krugel had pleaded innocent to the bomb charges and said the plot was orchestrated by an FBI informant.

Defense lawyers said the JDL has been a target of FBI investigations for more than 15 years. The December arrests of the two men came amid heightened tensions following the Sept. 11 attacks on Washington and New York City, they said.

A trial date of March 19, 2003 was set, with the case to be heard by U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew.

Rubin, 56, assumed leadership of the militant Jewish group in 1985 from its controversial founder, Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was later assassinated in New York by a Muslim extremist.

The indictment against Rubin alleged that Krugel, a dental hygienist, planned to build a bomb in his own garage on Dec. 12, 2001 and that a secret government informant was to carry out a bombing the next day.

Rubin allegedly approved the bombing plans and selected the targets, which included the office of Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican of Lebanese Christian descent. No bombs were ever planted.

Both Rubin and Krugel were charged with conspiracy, conspiracy to use a destructive device, attempted arson, attempted arson of a federal facility, possession of a destructive device and solicitation to commit a crime of violence. If convicted, both men faced jail terms of up to life in prison.

Copyright 2002 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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