US couple had terror hit list: court documents
A US man has been charged after he compiled a hit list of 15 people he believed had harmed Muslim civilians and deserved to die, court documents showed Wednesday.
Paul Rockwood and his wife Nadia were charged with lying to federal investigators about the compilation and content of the list, which Nadia Rockwood delivered to an unnamed individual in April at her husband’s request.
The Alaska couple were expected to plead guilty to the charges later Wednesday.
According to plea agreement documents obtained by AFP Wednesday, Paul Rockwood converted to Islam around late 2001 and soon “became a strict adherent to the violent jihad-promoting ideology of cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.”
Awlaki, a US-Yemeni cleric, has been accused of inspiring a string of terror attacks, including the 2009 shooting attack at Fort Hood military base, and last year’s failed Christmas Day attack on a US airliner.
“This included a personal conviction that it was his religious responsibility to exact revenge by death on anyone who desecrated Islam,” the document said.
Rockwood began researching explosive devices, and by late 2009 was discussing “committing acts of domestic terrorism, including… the use of mail bombs and the possibility of killing targets by gunshot to the head.”
By early 2010, Rockwood “formalized” a list of some 15 specific targets, which may have included US soldiers. The list has not been released.
Nadia Rockwood was aware of her husband’s radicalization, the documents said.
Both husband and wife subsequently lied to investigators about the content of the list, which was obtained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Paul Rockwood was expected to plead guilty later Wednesday to charges of “making material false statements involving domestic terrorism,” in exchange for an eight-year sentence followed by three years of supervised release.
His wife was expected to plead guilty to a less serious charge of lying to investigators in exchange for five years of probation, which she was expected to serve in Britain, her country of origin.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said US government officials notified the individuals on the list “and took appropriate steps to ensure their safety.”
But he noted that the court documents “do not allege that Paul or Nadia Rockwood carried out or attempted to carry out any attacks.”
“Based on the totality of the facts and the evidence of the case, we are satisfied that these particular charges were appropriate,” he told AFP.