US man linked to Awlaki pleads guilty in terror case
An American who acknowledged being an adherent of jihad-promoting US-Yemeni cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki has pleaded guilty to making false statements in a terrorism investigation, officials said.
Paul Rockwood and his wife Nadia, who both pleaded guilty to charges Wednesday, were charged with lying to federal agents in the probe into a domestic terror case.
The Justice Department said Rockwood had been researching ways to take revenge against people who "desecrated" Islam and had compiled a list of 15 targets.
Rockwood, 35, pleaded guilty to one count of willfully making false statements to the FBI involving domestic terrorism and agreed to a prison sentence of eight years.
Nadia Rockwood, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of willfully making false statements to the FBI, which will mean a sentence of five years of probation.
According to court documents, Paul Rockwood converted to Islam around late 2001 and soon "became a strict adherent to the violent jihad-promoting ideology of Awlaki."
Awlaki 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.
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.
© 2010 AFP